What is Multiple Sclerosis?
Multiple sclerosis is a chronic, unpredictable and wide-ranging disease that has more questions than answers. MS affects the central nervous system and disrupts the flow of information both in the brain, and between the brain and spinal cord. More common in women than men, the disease typically occurs between the ages of 20 and 40, but can be present at any age.
The symptoms, severity, and duration can vary from person to person. Some people may be symptom-free most of their lives, while others can have severe, chronic symptoms that never go away. Some people who have been diagnosed with MS may experience relatively minor complications, while others may notice life-altering effects over the lifetime of the disease. Some of the more common early symptoms include:
- Loss of vision due to inflammation of the optic nerve
- Difficulty walking
- Abnormal sensation, or pain, such as numbness or prickling
As the symptoms progress, MS patients may experience muscle weakness, poor coordination, muscle stiffness or spasms, dizziness and bowel and bladder issues. Approximately half of all patients will experience memory issues, concentration and attention difficulties.
There is no cure for MS and the cause is unknown, however, there are different treatments that can help manage the symptoms, slow the progression, or change the path of the disease or improve function and mobility. Physical therapy and medications that suppress the immune system can help with symptoms and slow disease progression. A healthy lifestyle, including a balanced diet and regular exercise, has been shown to improve outcomes for those living with MS.
The MS Achievement Center at the University of Kansas Medical Center is designed to offer comprehensive services and enhance the quality of life for individuals with progressive MS.