Understanding Multiple Sclerosis: Symptoms, Diagnosis & more

What is Multiple Sclerosis (MS)?

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a chronic disease which attacks your central nervous system (CNS) – brain and spinal cord.

MS compromises your immune system to attack the protective barrier (myelin) surrounding nerve fibres, thus creating miscommunication between your brain and the rest of your body.

Eventually, the disease can cause permanent damage or deterioration of the nerves.

There is currently no cure for MS; however, treatments are available to manage the symptoms and aid recovery from attacks.

How to Spot MS?

Multiple sclerosis patients experience a wide range of symptoms as it differs from person to person and the location of the affected nerves. The severity also changes after a long period of time and chronicity.

Here are some of the most common symptoms of developing MS:

  • Difficulty walking due to numbness in legs or feet, lack of coordination, muscle weakness, muscle spasticity and difficulty with vision.

  • Vision problems in one or both eyes include partial or complete loss of vision, prolonged double vision, optic neuritis (pain or blurry vision) and involuntary movement of the eyes.

  • Speech issues include slurred speech, “scanning” speech (long pauses between words or syllables) and changes in speech volume.

Other symptoms include

  • fatigue

  • tremors

  • cognitive issues (concentration, memory, and word-finding)

  • difficulty chewing and swallowing

  • trouble sleeping

  • problems with bladder control

How is Multiple Sclerosis Diagnosed?

doctor view output CT scan.

Your healthcare provider, generally a neurologist, will conduct multiple tests before confirming an MS diagnosis. These tests include:

  • MRI scan to detect active and inactive lesions

  • Optical coherence tomography (OCT) to check for thinning around the optic nerve

  • Spinal tap (lumbar puncture) to find irregularities in spinal fluid

  • Blood tests to ensure it is not a false positive

  • Visual evoked potentials (VEP) test analyses the electrical activity in your brain after stimulation

A confirmed MS diagnosis will show proof of demyelination in your brain, spinal cord, or optic nerves. Demyelination is a process that prevents nerves from efficiently sending signals.

Remember, always get a diagnosis to rule out other possibilities!

What are the Types of Multiple Sclerosis?

There are four main types:

Clinically isolated syndrome (CIS)

When someone has their first episode of MS symptoms (due to the demyelination in their CNS), which lasts for at least 24 hours.

Although this episode is a trait of MS, readers should note that not everyone who has CIS will develop MS.

Relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS)

The most common form of MS where patients experience clear relapses of new or worsening symptoms, followed by remissions (when symptoms stabilise or are absent).

Relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis accounts for 85% of all cases, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Primary progressive MS (PPMS)

At this stage, your neurological function slowly and increasingly worsens without any periods of relapse or remission.

However, there are brief periods of stability when the disease activity is not active.

Secondary progressive MS (SPMS)

Occurs when a patient diagnosed with RRMS progresses to secondary progressive multiple sclerosis, and more and more nerves are damaged.

You may experience noticeable relapses when symptoms increase but without any remissions afterwards.

What are the Causes of Multiple Sclerosis?

The cause of MS is still unknown, and research experts consider it an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system malfunctions and attacks its own tissues.

While there is no definitive cause, researchers have theorised that it may be a mix of genetic and environmental factors.

These are the risk factors that trigger MS:

  • Gene mutation: If you have a family member diagnosed with MS, you have a higher risk of developing the disease.

  • Environment: Certain parts of the world, especially countries with temperate climates, including Canada, the northern United States, New Zealand, southeastern Australia and Europe, have a higher rate of MS. There is a correlation between these regions receiving less intense sun and patients who have low levels of vitamin D.

  • Specific autoimmune disease: If you’re diagnosed with other autoimmune conditions such as thyroid disease, pernicious anaemia, psoriasis, type 1 diabetes or inflammatory bowel disease, you are at a higher risk of MS.

  • Certain infections: Some researchers have linked MS with various viruses, including the Epstein-Barr virus (infectious mononucleosis).

  • Smoking: Smokers are more likely to develop a second event that confirms relapsing-remitting MS after experiencing the first event of symptoms.

Is there Treatment for MS?

managing multiple sclerosis symptoms

As mentioned, there is currently no cure for treating multiple sclerosis. However, treatment options are available for managing symptoms and improving patients’ quality of life.

Disease-modifying therapies (DMTs)

DMTs are designed to help slow disease progression and lower the relapse rate.

In addition, there are several self-injectable disease-modifying medications with FDA approval, such as glatiramer acetate (Copaxone) and beta interferons. These drugs can help prevent the formation of new lesions in your brain and spinal cord.

Relapse management medications

If you suffer a severe relapse, your doctor may prescribe you a high dose of corticosteroids to reduce inflammation. Additionally, they can slow the damage done to the myelin sheath around your nerve cells.

Mental health counselling

It is emotionally exhausting when coping with a chronic condition, especially as MS can affect your memory and mood. Hence, you might need to work with a neuropsychologist or get other emotional support as you manage MS.

You can combine these treatments with other complementary therapies to manage symptoms and stress, such as meditation, massage, tai chi, and Chiropractic.

Take back your life with Vitality Chiropractic Centres!

autoimmune disorders

Vitality Chiropractic Centres is the ONLY Chiropractic clinic in Singapore specialising in health issues related to the nervous system, such as migraines, vertigo, Meniere’s disease and other neuromuscular or neurological disorders.

We are the first Chiropractors in Singapore and Southeast Asia to introduce this Upper Cervical Specific Chiropractic technique.

Chiropractic helps to correct misalignments in the neck and spine which will cause disruptions in the nervous system, particularly affecting the brain stem and spinal cord. These spinals misalignments, known as Subluxations, will make it harder for the body to recover from the effects of MS.

Our experienced Chiropractic team provide treatment explicitly catered to boost your recovery process. We use our expertise to tailor an effective treatment plan that brings our Chiropractic patients back to optimal health.

Beyond alleviating your symptoms, our patient-centric approach takes you through active recovery to restore your life and spinal health to functional wellness!

Contact us @(+65) 8438 9550 to make a booking now!

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