Tuesday, July 22, 2008

What is MS?

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic, often disabling disease that attacks the central nervous system (CNS), which is made up of the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves. Symptoms can range from mild, such as numbness in the arms and/or legs to severe, such as paralysis or loss of vision. The progress and symptoms of MS vary, often greatly from one person to another. Some people only have one isolated MS attack and have no residual problems. Others, for unknown reasons continue to have attacks (exacerbation's) and require close medical monitoring and daily medication. Most people are able to work, remain active and healthy. Others become disabled. At this time there is no way to tell who will become disabled and who won't.

MS is not contagious and is not directly inherited.
Most people with MS have a normal or near-normal life expectancy.
The majority of people with MS do not become severely disabled.

There are 4 types of MS.

Relapsing-Remitting MS (RRMS) Approximately 85% of people with MS are diagnosed with this type of MS. People with this type of MS go through very specific "attacks" (also called flareups or exacerbation's). During these periods they have neurological deterioration. Often following an exacerbation (remission) they are able to return to their prior level of neurological function with little or no permanent damage.

Secondary-Progressive MS (SPMS) After being diagnosed with RRMS, many people develop secondary-progressive disease. At this point they don't know why and there is no way to predict which people will develop SPMS. In SPMS the disease worsens more steadily, even without a person experiencing further exacerbations.

Primary-Progressive MS (PPMS) Approximately 10% of MS patients are diagnosed with this form of MS. It is progressive right from the beginning without periods of specific exacerbations and remissions.

Progressive-Relapsing MS (PPMS) Fortunately this is a rare form of MS (5%). This is a steadly progressive form of MS, right from the beginning.

Fotunately, there are many treatments available. While there is no cure for MS, the treatments available help those with MS treat symptoms, help diminish the severity of exacerbations and maintain a better, more active quality of life.

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