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Expert Care for Symptoms of Multiple System Atrophy at Dignity Health

Multiple system atrophy (MSA) is the collective name for a group of rare neurodegenerative disorders that affect your body’s movement and certain involuntary functions controlled by your nervous system, including blood pressure and breathing. As the condition progresses, movement becomes more difficult. You may eventually be unable to walk. The disorder can become life threatening if it causes severe heart or lung problems.

At Dignity Health Neurological Institute of Northern California, we have a fellowship-trained movement disorder specialist, Ehsan Hadi, M.D., that can help diagnose and manage your symptoms of multiple system atrophy in the Sacramento region. Call (888) 800-7688 to get a doctor referral today.


Causes of Multiple System Atrophy

The cause of MSA is unknown. Most cases seem to occur randomly. One risk factor seems to be a variation in a gene that helps the body make a protein called alpha-synuclein. When this protein builds up in the nervous system, it prevents the nerves from working correctly. The buildup of this protein in the nervous system is also found in Parkinson’s disease, although in different types of cells. Currently, there is no cure for MSA.


Multiple System Atrophy Symptoms

People with MSA typically develop signs and symptoms of the condition in their 50s or 60s, although it can affect younger people, too. The first symptoms often resemble Parkinson’s disease, making it difficult for doctors to tell the difference between the two conditions. However, MSA tends to progress more quickly with more widespread effects on the body.

Symptoms of MSA that are similar to Parkinson’s disease include:

  • Slow movements
  • Tremor or muscle stiffness
  • Coordination problems
  • Speech problems

Unfortunately, MSA symptoms do not improve with anti-Parkinson medications. In fact, they may even worsen.

MSA symptoms related to problems with the autonomic nervous system can include:

  • Irregular heart rate
  • Lightheadedness (due to a sudden drop in blood pressure)
  • Breathing and digestion problems
  • Bladder control problems.

Other symptoms of MSA include erectile dysfunction and sleep problems.


Treating MSA in the Sacramento Region

The experts at Dignity Health will create a personalized treatment plan that fits your unique case of MSA. We use the latest methods and techniques for your best possible care.

Our treatment options to address the symptoms of MSA include:

  • Drinking more water and increasing salt in your diet to help raise blood pressure
  • Wearing compression stockings and avoiding heavy meals to reduce light-headedness
  • Physical therapy to preserve mobility
  • Speech therapy to help with swallowing problems
  • Occupational therapy to teach you new skills for carrying out everyday activities
  • Medication to reduce bladder control problems, control sleeping issues and relieve other symptoms
With skill and expertise, the neurologists and specialists at Dignity Health Neurological Institute of Northern California can treat multiple system atrophy or MSA in Sacramento and the surrounding areas.