Learn about the symptoms and
four most common types of Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a complex, autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system. It develops when the protective covering surrounding nerve cells (called myelin) begins to deteriorate. This disrupts signals that travel within the brain, and from the brain to other parts of the body. These interruptions are the source of MS symptoms, which can include:
Researchers are not sure what causes this deterioration of cells, although they have learned that it is not genetically passed on, or something that can be transmitted from person to person.
MS can start suddenly, typically in people 20-40 years old and more often in women. There is no single test to diagnose MS. Doctors must look for clues in a person’s medical history and physical exams, and may order blood tests, a lumbar puncture and an MRI to rule out other possible conditions. Nerve function tests could also provide important information. The patient will likely be referred to a neurology specialist to confirm the diagnosis.
MS is unpredictable and can affect people in different ways. For some people, the effects are mild. For others, it can have a significant impact on their functional abilities. Depending on the type of MS, and its severity, symptoms may fade into remission and then flare up again.
The four most common types of MS are:
MS can be effectively treated by medication. In many cases, lost function can be regained by treatments and therapy. Residual symptoms can also be improved with medication.
Understandably, living with MS can be challenging emotionally and difficult to cope with at times. Looking after the mental health of MS patients, as well as their physical health, is very important. The Multiple Sclerosis Program at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, one of the largest and most comprehensive for MS in the region, focuses on a supportive, team-based approach to care. The multidisciplinary team not only address physical wellness, but also the emotional, cognitive, and rehabilitation needs of each patient.