Jersey Institute of Neuroscience
Multiple Sclerosis is the most common disabling neurological illness of young people. In the United States, almost 400,000 individuals are thought to be affected. Typically, the illness begins between age twenty to fifty years old, although children as young as five and older patients in their eighties have been identified. The exact cause of this condition at this time remains unknown. Current research suggests that the illness is caused by an error in the immune response in a genetically susceptible individual. Due to this mistake in self recognition, the immune cells mount an attack against targeted areas of the nervous system, causing damage. The illness progresses slowly over decades, most people have a clinical course that shows worsening and improvement (i.e. relapses and remissions) as the nervous system attempts to repair the damage. Ultimately, the restorative capacities of the nervous system are overwhelmed and the patients exhibit a progressive loss of function.
The symptoms of this disease are variable in their location and their severity. Because of this, even experienced physicians may have difficulty making a diagnosis. Loss of vision, numbness, tingling, and weakness can be early complaints. Over time, progressive worsening can occur and patients may experience pain, memory loss, anxiety, depression, fatigue, bladder dysfunction, sexual dysfunction, and progressive loss of motor abilities.
Multiple Sclerosis Treatment: There are several medications currently licensed by the FDA to treat multiple sclerosis. These therapies have shown benefit in reducing the number of new lesions on MRI, decreasing the number of clinical attacks, and slowing disability progression, in multiple clinical trials done world-wide. Treatment is of greatest benefit if instituted early in the course of the disease.