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What is Multiple Sclerosis (MS)?

Multiple sclerosis, often abbreviated as MS, is a chronic neurological condition that affects the central nervous system (CNS). The CNS includes the brain and spinal cord, and it plays a vital role in controlling various bodily functions. MS is considered an autoimmune disorder, which means that the body's immune system mistakenly attacks its own healthy tissues.

With over 100 diagnoses a week, more than 130,000 people have MS in the UK, more than 1,200 are in the Dorset area.  Diagnosis is typically between the ages of 20 to 30, but can be diagnosed in younger or older people.  Nearly three times more women have MS than men.

 

Some of the most common MS symptoms can be:

  • Eyesight Problems

  • Fatigue

  • Memory and Cognitive Issues

  • Pins and Needle sensation, numbness or burning feeling

  • Mobility Difficulties

  • Loss of balance and dizziness

  • Muscle Stiffness and Spasticity

  • Bladder and Bowel Issues

 

Each person who has MS is different, and our aim is to provide services at our centre to meet their individual needs.

The Key Components of Multiple Sclerosis:

  1. Nerve Damage: In MS, the immune system attacks the protective covering of nerve fibers called myelin. Myelin acts as an insulating sheath, allowing nerve signals to travel quickly and efficiently. When the myelin is damaged, it disrupts the normal flow of electrical signals in the CNS.

  2. Symptoms: The symptoms of MS can vary widely from person to person. Common symptoms include fatigue, difficulty walking, muscle weakness, numbness or tingling in the limbs, vision problems, and problems with coordination and balance. Symptoms may come and go or worsen gradually over time.

  3. Relapsing-Remitting MS (RRMS): This is the most common form of MS. It is characterized by periods of relapses, during which symptoms worsen, followed by periods of remission when symptoms improve or stabilize. Not all patients experience relapses.

  4. Progressive MS: In some cases, MS may transition to a progressive form where symptoms gradually worsen without distinct relapses and remissions.

  5. Diagnosis: Diagnosing MS typically involves a combination of medical history, neurological exams, and diagnostic tests such as MRI scans to detect lesions or areas of damage in the CNS.

  6. Treatment: While there is no cure for MS, several treatments are available to manage symptoms, slow disease progression, and improve quality of life. These may include disease-modifying therapies, symptom management medications, physical therapy, and lifestyle adjustments.

  7. Support: Managing MS can be challenging, both physically and emotionally. Support from healthcare professionals, family, and support groups can be crucial in coping with the condition.

 

Being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis is a significant life event, but it's important to remember that many individuals with MS lead fulfilling lives with the right treatment and support. Understanding the basics of MS is the first step in taking control of your health. Your healthcare team will work with you to develop a personalized treatment plan and provide guidance on managing your symptoms. While there may be challenges ahead, there is hope, and you are not alone on this journey.

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