What is multiple sclerosis?
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune, chronic inflammatory disease of the central nervous system. In most cases, the disease occurs between the ages of 20 and 40 and is considered the most common chronic disease of the central nervous system. Women are affected more often than men. MS usually occurs in relapses with different courses. The most common symptoms include sensory disturbances, visual disturbances and muscle paralysis lasting from days to weeks. The disease cannot yet be cured. However, there are a number of treatments available, some of them highly effective, which can slow down the course of the disease, prevent acute symptoms and shorten or avoid relapses.
With MS, the body’s own inflammatory cells, so-called T and B lymphocytes, destroy the sheath covering the nerve fibres, the so-called myelin, as well as the nerve cells and their processes in the brain and spinal cord. The myelin layer of the nerves ensures that the brain cells send stimuli to different regions of the body very quickly. Inflammation damages the myelin, causing nerve conduction to be temporarily interrupted or slowed down.
The most common symptoms of MS are:
Sensory disturbances: Sensory disturbances, such as numbness or tingling, initially in the fingertips or feet, which later spread to the arms or legs. Tightness around joints and hips, pain and reduced sensitivity, for example to temperature, are also common. If the spinal cord is affected, the so-called neck flexion sign often occurs. This is when you feel an electrifying, sudden sensation along the spine when you bend your head forward.
Visual disturbances: Often the result of a temporarily inflamed optic nerve (optic neuritis). Other symptoms that can affect vision include blurred vision as if through a veil, impaired colour vision or when reading small print, double vision, flashes of light or failures of the visual field.
Muscle paralysis: Typical for MS is reduced muscle strength up to paralysis, which can be accompanied by faster fatigue when walking, but also tension and stiffness.
Causes & risk factors
The causes of MS are not yet known in all details. In addition to genetic factors, environmental factors such as smoking, low vitamin D3, infection with the Epstein Barr virus and obesity in adolescence and early adulthood also play a role.
Diagnosis of MS: What can be done?
MS must be treated early with drugs that slow down the immune system’s attack on the brain and spinal cord. If neurological symptoms occur and do not heal, neurorehabilitation is important to cure or reduce deficits. In addition, patients can positively influence the course of the disease with certain measures:
- -Stop smoking,
- ensure that they have enough vitamin D,
- regular exercise,
- balanced diet
Rehabilitation at cereneo
At cereneo, we tailor therapies to our patients’ individual needs, offering personalised treatment with a therapist on a 1:1 basis using state-of-the-art therapy equipment and diagnostic procedures. Learn more about rehabilitation options in an online consultation with one of our neurologists.