MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS (MS)
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a progressive, neurodegenerative disease that involves an immune-mediated process in which an abnormal response of the body’s immune system is directed against the central nervous system (CNS). Essentially, this means that our own immune system for some reason begins to attack our CNS, comprised of the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves. This causes inflammation that damages myelin, the fatty substance that surrounds and insulates nerve fibers, and myelin-producing cells as well as the nerves themselves.
Some of the science behind MS.
While activation of T cells outside of the blood-brain barrier (BBB) is thought to be a key triggering event of a MS relapse, MS is a complex and often-elusive disease for which no single cause has yet to be identified. Genetics and heredity as well as environmental, immunologic and infectious factors may all contribute to primary disease formation. After entry into brain tissue, these T cells become reactivated and are able to participate in the disease process by producing soluble immune mediators including cytokines (substances secreted by certain cells of the immune system and have an effect on other cells) and chemokines (any of a class of cytokines with functions that include attracting white blood cells to sites of infection). They regulate transmigration of immune cells into the CNS and mediate the subsequent development of tissue damage or, alternatively, may counter the development of tissue injury in the CNS.
Once this immune response has been activated, patients may experience a variety of symptoms that vary in severity and type and from person to person.
Some symptoms may include:
- Numbness, tingling or weakness in one or more limbs that usually occurs on the same side of the body at a time or in the legs and torso area.
- Difficulty walking or with your gait
- Vision problems
- Muscle spasms
- Cognitive issues
- Dizziness or vertigo
While these are just a few of the more common symptoms associated with MS, there are also other less common problems that may accompany disease progression. That’s why it is always advisable to consult a physician at the earliest opportunity if you have any concerns.
It is estimated that more than one million people in the United States and approximately 2.5 million worldwide have MS. Each year in the United States nearly 10,500 new cases are diagnosed or nearly 200 new cases per week. While the disease is seen in both genders as well as adults and children, women are almost 70% more likely than men to develop MS.