Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease which can potentially disable the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system). The immune system in those with MS attacks myelin (the protective sheath) covering nerve fibers, causing communication problems between the brain and the rest of the body. Over time the disease can deteriorate or cause permanent damage to the nerves.
Symptoms and signs of MS vary widely and depend on which nerves are affected and the amount of nerve damage. Some individuals with severe MS may lose the ability to walk at all or independently, while some may experience long remission periods without new symptoms.
Treatments for MS can help modify the course of the disease, manage symptoms, and help quicken recovery from attacks; but there is no cure for multiple sclerosis.
Symptoms can differ vastly from individual to individual and over the course of the disease depending on the location of affected nerve fibers.
Movement is often affected, some symptoms include:
- Numbness/weakness in one or more limbs (typically occurring on one side of the body at a time)
- Electric-shock sensations occurring with certain neck movements, like bending the neck forward
- Tremors, lack of coordination, unsteady gait
Vision issues are also common:
- Partial or full loss of vision, usually one eye at a time, there is often pain experienced during eye movement
- Prolonged double vision
- Blurry vision
Other MS symptoms include:
- Speech is slurred
- Tingling or pain in parts of your body
- Sexual, bowel, and bladder function problems
Risk Factors listed below may increase your risk of developing MS:
- Age. MS can occur at any age, onset usually occurs around 20 and 40 years old.
- Sex. Women are two to three times more likely than men to have relapsing-remitting MS.
- Family history. If a parent or sibling has had MS, you are at a higher risk of developing MS.
- Specific infections. A variety of viruses are linked to MS.
- Race. Caucasian individuals, especially Northern European descent, have the highest risk of developing MS.
- Individuals of Asian, African or Native American descent have the lowest risk.
- Climate. The disease is more common in countries with temperature climates, like Canada, northern United States, New Zealand, southeast Australia and Europe.
- Vitamin D. Low levels of vitamin D and low exposure to sunlight has been associated with a greater risk of MS.
- Specific autoimmune diseases. There is a slightly higher risk of developing MS in individuals with other autoimmune disorders like thyroid disease, psoriasis, or type 1 diabetes.
Other complications that may develop in individuals with MS:
- Paralysis (usually in the legs)
- Muscle spasms or stiffness
- Mental changes like forgetfulness or mood swings
Med Supply carries a variety of walking aid products to assist those with MS, including: