MS Awareness Week
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a condition that can affect the brain and spinal cord, causing a wide range of potential symptoms, including problems with vision, arm or leg movement, sensation or balance.
That’s the basics of the condition. Seems simple enough to understand! However, it is never as easy as a single statement taken from the NHS website. The intersting part of this condition is it’s facts.
- Most commonly diagnosed in people in their 20’s the 30’s.
- It about 2 or 3 times more common in women than in men.
- MS is one of the most common disabilities in young adults.
What are the Symptoms
The symptoms vary widely, each person will have some and not others. However the main symptoms are as follows:
- difficulty walking
- vision problems, such as blurred vision
- problems controlling the bladder
- numbness or tingling in different parts of the body
- muscle stiffness and spasms
- problems with balance and co-ordination
- problems with thinking, learning and planning
The really interesting part of this condition is that some of the symptoms are known to come and go in phases over time. However this condition is permanent and will reduce life expectancy.
Seeing a GP
If you are concerned that you have experienced some of these symptoms then please seek medical advice from a GP. Many of the symptoms are similar to other conditions. See our other blog Complex Regional Pain Syndrome.
CRPS is just an example of a condition that shares some common symptoms. Others could be very simple such as a lack of Iron will cause Fatigue for example so please don’t self diagnose. Seek advice!
Types of Multiple Sclerosis
There are two ways that MS can start:
- Relapsing remitting MS
More than 80% of those diagnosed with MS will start with this type of MS. Many will then have episodes of new or worsening symptoms, this is known as relapses. The symptoms will get worse over a matter of days or weeks. However, they often then improve but very slowly. Sometimes over several months or even years.
Relapses often come with no warning but can be related to a 3rd source illness or even high levels of stress. There are periods between attacks like these and they are know as remission periods. Fortunately these remission periods can sometimes last years at a time.
Around half of people with relapsing remitting MS will develop secondary progressive MS within 15 to 20 years, and the risk of this happening increases the longer you have the condition.
- Primary progressive MS
Just over 1 in 10 people with MS start with a gradual worsening of the symptoms. However with Primary progressive MS there is no periods of remission. There are times when the condition seems to become stable, but that is normally the best one can hope for.
So what causes Multiple Sclerosis?
MS is an autoimmune condition. This is when something goes wrong with the immune system and it mistakenly attacks a healthy part of the body – in this case, the brain or spinal cord of the nervous system.
Taken this paragraph off the NHS website but I think the statement is very clear. However, what causes the immune system to attack in this way is very much unclear and research is still underway to get to the bottom of this issue.
Charities and support groups for Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
- need help with day-to-day living because of illness or disability
- care for someone regularly because they’re ill, elderly or disabled, including family members
The NHS guide to care and support explains your options and where you can get support.