SymptomsSymptoms for multiple sclerosis can vary; a common experience is spasticity – difficulty in movement, posture, and balance. Other symptoms include weakness, numbness and visual and speech impairment.
About this Condition
Multiple sclerosis is a chronic, often disabling disease of the central nervous system (the brain or spinal cord).
Symptoms result when myelin, the protective insulation surrounding the nerve fibers of the central nervous system, is destroyed and replaced by scars of hardened "sclerotic" patches of tissue.*
Multiple sclerosis is most common in Caucasians (especially Northern Europeans), women, and individuals with a genetic predisposition. Studies indicate that genetic factors could make certain individuals more susceptible to the disease, but there is no evidence that MS is directly inherited.*
Your clinician may diagnose you with one of many different types of multiple sclerosis. Since 1996, multiple sclerosis has been categorized in the following ways:*
- Relapsing-Remitting (very common as initial diagnosis)
- Primary-Progressive (relatively rare)
- Secondary-Progressive (if left untreated, half of all Relapsing-Remitting individuals develop this within 10 years)
- Progressive-Relapsing (relatively rare)
Multiple sclerosis occurs most commonly in adults, but it is also diagnosed in children and adolescents.*
Spasticity is caused by damage or injury to the part of the central nervous system (the brain or spinal cord) that controls voluntary movement. This damage disrupts important signals between the nervous system and muscles, creating an imbalance that increases muscle activity or spasms.
Spasticity can make movement, posture, and balance difficult. It may affect your ability to move one or more of your limbs, or to move one side of your body. Sometimes spasticity is so severe that it gets in the way of daily activities, sleep patterns, and care giving. In certain situations, this loss of control can be dangerous for the individual.
*National MS Society. MS The Disease. Available at: www.nationalmssociety.org. Accessed 05/04/10.
This content is for your general education only. See your doctor for a professional diagnosis and to discuss an appropriate treatment plan.
Injections for Spasticity/Multiple Sclerosis
In some cases, your doctor may give you an injection of a corticosteroid to help relieve your pain and reduce inflammation. Corticosteroids mimic the effects of the hormones cortisone and hydrocortisone, which are made by the outer layer (cortex) of your adrenal glands. When prescribed in doses that exceed your natural levels, corticosteroids suppress inflammation, which in turn relieves pressure and pain. They are most effective when used in conjunction with a rehabilitation program. In addition, corticosteroids can cause serious side effects, so the number of injections you can receive is limited—usually no more than three in one year.
Physical Therapy / Occupational Therapy
Physical and occupational therapy can play a vital role in your recovery. Once acute pain improves, your doctor or a therapist can design a rehabilitation program to help prevent recurrent injuries.
These programs often include heat, cold and electrotherapy to help alleviate pain, decrease swelling, increase strength and promote healing. Methods include therapeutic exercise, manual therapy, functional training and use of assistive devices and adaptive equipment to increase strength, range of motion, endurance, wound healing and functional independence.Learn More About Our Physical Therapy Services
Baclofen Intrathecal Pump
In cases of severe spasticity, an intrathecal baclofen pump may be implanted. This is a precise, targeted treatment proven to reduce severe spasticity. The pump and catheter are surgically placed beneath the skin. The pump dispenses baclofen according to a prescribed dosage.
Possible surgical complications include infection, meningitis, spinal fluid leak, paralysis, headache, swelling, bleeding, and bruising.
Please keep in mind that all treatments and outcomes are specific to the individual patient. Results may vary. Complications, such as infection, blood loss, and bowel or bladder problems are some of the potential adverse risks of surgery. Please consult your physician for a complete list of indications, warnings, precautions, adverse events, clinical results and other important medical information.