Stages of Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis or MS, is a chronic and disabling disease of the brain and spinal cord, which make up the body’s central nervous system.

It occurs when the body’s immune system attacks the protective coating of nerve fibers called the myelin sheath, throughout the central nervous system. When the myelin is damaged, scar tissue or lesions form at the site of the damage. When this happens, the nerve impulses that travel to and from the brain and spinal cord are disrupted.

There are four stages of multiple sclerosis that a person may experience. They are:

  1. Clinically Isolated Syndrome

It is described as when you first experience an episode or attack of a neurological symptom or symptoms.

  1. Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis

This is the most common form of MS. It is described as intermittent attacks of symptoms or relapses, followed by a short or long period of no clinical attacks or remissions.

  1. Secondary-Progressive Multiple Sclerosis

It is described as when the symptoms of an MS patient who has had relapse-remitting MS for 10 to 20 years continue to worsen and the patient’s mobility gradually diminishes.

  1. Primary-Progressive Multiple Sclerosis

It is described as when a patient who is 40 years or older at the time of their diagnosis, gradually loses functionality, becoming increasingly less able.

The symptoms of MS vary and progress differently in all patients who suffer from it. These symptoms may include:

  • Numbness, weakness, stiffness, or tingling in limbs.
  • Vertigo, lack of coordination, an unsteady gait, or trouble walking.
  • Blurry vision, double vision, or partial or complete vision loss.
  • Fatigue
  • Problems with sexual, bladder, and bowel function.
  • Slurred speech and cognitive problems
  • Mood disturbances

There are no specific tests for MS. However, a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis often relies on ruling out other conditions that might produce similar signs and symptoms. This is known as a differential diagnosis.

Here are ways a doctor may help diagnose MS:

  • Medical history and neurological exam
  • Blood tests
  • Spinal tap or lumbar puncture
  • MRI
  • Evoked potential tests

Many risk factors can increase your chances of developing MS, here are a few:

  • Age
  • Sex
  • Family history
  • Certain infections
  • Race
  • Geography and climate
  • Low Vitamin D levels
  • Your genes
  • Obesity
  • Certain autoimmune diseases
  • Smoking

Although there is no cure for MS, there are many ways to manage its symptoms. Here are some ways to manage the symptoms of MS:

  • Physical or occupational therapy
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Medications to reduce fatigue and increase walking speed.
  • Medications for depression, pain, sexual dysfunction, insomnia, and bladder and bowel control problems.
  • Getting plenty of rest
  • Exercise
  • Eating a balanced diet
  • Relieving stress

MS attacks and progressions can be treated through oral and injectable medications and plasma exchange if symptoms aren’t responding to steroids.

If you or someone you love are experiencing any symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis, you can visit Flushing Hospital Medical Center’s Ambulatory Care Center. To schedule an appointment, please call at 718-670-5486.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.