Multiple Sclerosis



Multiple Sclerosis is a disease that bewilders us all.. There is no known cause. We do know that MS (multiple sclerosis) is a disease where the myelin breaks down and is replaced by scar tissue. The demyelination can slow down or block the flow of signals to and from the central nervous system to the rest of the body, impairing such functions as vision, strength, and coordination.1

While we do know what MS is we still don't know why, where and when people contract the disease. It has been proven that MS generally appears between the ages of twenty to forty and it strikes women at more than twice the ratio it strikes men. Statistics have also shown that the disease strikes the middle and upper class more than the lower class and poor. Worldwide research shows that MS has a broad geographical distribution. It has long established that MS is more prominent in colder regions and rare in tropical areas. Maine being a colder climate has shown some of the highest rates of MS.2

There is evidence of a slight increase in MS among first degree relatives--parents, siblings, and children. It is also suspected that the same family members may inherent a genetic susceptibility to MS. While it is possible to inherit a genetic susceptibility to MS, it is not possible to inherit the disease. And even people who have all the necessary genes don't necessarily get MS. The disease, experts believe, must be triggered by environmental factors. So MS is not considered a hereditary disease.3

Until the definite cause of Ms is proved the treatment cannot be truly scientific. But there are treatments that are effective in dealing with symptoms. For instance, there are the common sense treatments that everyone, with or without an illness, should treat themselves with, which are: A healthy diet, exercise, sufficient amount of rest and to live your life as you would normally. There are also lots of drugs that treat many of the different symptoms. Since there are so many symptoms



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and treatments, I will only list a few: Treatments that increase the blood flow, that decrease blood clotting, treatments for chemical eccess or deficiency, treatments to prevent infection and treatments for the immune system.

Treatment and rehabilitation have also been joined together. Weakness is one of the major symptoms of Ms and can be treated with physical therapy and strengthening exercises. One of the best exercises for reducing weakness in the limbs is hydrotherapy. Hydrotherapy is done in the water. Hydrotherapy exercises use the benefits of buoyancy. Another way to eliminate weakness is to stay off a weak limb. Overall, by recognizing limits and using common sense, weakness can be greatly diminished.4

Spasticity, another MS symptom, is most effectively treated with physical therapy. Cold is an excellent temporary measure for relaxing the spastic limb. Hydrotherapy is, again, the most effective exercise for relief, combining stretching and cool temperatures. There are also many medications for spasticity, such as Baclofen, Dantrollene, and Diazepam. Relaxation techniques such as yoga, transcendental meditation, biofeedback, have been successful with spasticity as well. 5

Some MS patients might have mild to sever balance trouble. In mild cases, the person can learn how to compensate easily by standing and walking with a little wider base and taking short steps rather than long strides. When balance trouble is a little more severe, a four-pronged cane, crutches or a walker may be necessary.6

Someone with MS could have visual problems. The problem varies from decreased acuity, blurred or cloudy vision, and double vision. The treatment depends on the stage of the problem. If it is a new part of an attack, visual loss responds to steroids. If it is a persistent problem, glasses or special lenses might be the best treatment.7



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Bladder problems are unfortunately not uncommon with MS. The most common are frequency and urgency. There are three good medications that relieve symptoms when they are present for more than a week or two: Pro-Banthine, Ditropan and Tofranil. Iif bladder problems do not respond to medication, a complete bladder training problem may be prescribed.7

The treatments and medications used ten years ago are still effective and still being used but there are medical breakthroughs being announced regularly. In October of 1994, there was a medical breakthrough. Researchers found out that an anticancer drug stops the most crippling form of MS. The drug is Cladribine