Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a movement disorder characterized by progressive nerve degeneration. As the disease gets worse, it damages the protective covering of nerves in the brain and spine, blocking their ability to effectively communicate with the body.
MS affects more than 2.3 million people, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
At Dignity Health, our neurologists, neuropsychologists, physical and occupational therapists, and mental health providers work together to offer highly specialized care for multiple sclerosis in the Bay Area.
Signs of Multiple Sclerosis
Symptoms vary from case to case, but generally include:
- Loss of coordination
- Muscle weakness
- Problems with memory and thinking
- Tingling sensations
Because the symptoms above are similar to those of other movement disorders, you should see a Dignity Health doctor for an accurate diagnosis.
What Causes Multiple Sclerosis?
Brain and spinal nerves are protected by a special coating, called the myelin sheath, which surrounds and insulates them. In MS, this protective covering breaks down. Nerve impulses can no longer be sent or received, resulting in physical symptoms such as difficulty walking.
While researchers don’t yet fully understand exactly what triggers MS, they know the immune system plays a role.
Risk factors for multiple sclerosis include:
- Being a Caucasian female
- Exposure to certain infections and possibly environmental factors
- Family history of MS (heredity)
Treatment Options for Multiple Sclerosis
Treatments focuses on managing symptoms, slowing nerve damage, and improving quality of life. Therapies for MS may include:
- Physical and occupational rehabilitation
- Treating mood and cognitive issues
MS is unique for every person. If you’ve recently been diagnosed, you should know that MS today is very different from what it was in the past. With guidance and support from an experienced Dignity Health doctor, you can explore all the available treatment options.
Dignity Health hospitals in the Bay Area provide quality care for all stages of MS.