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Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body.
Ryan Mizell, MD, a board-certified neurologist specializing in MS, treats the condition with a focus on whole-person health. He and his team can treat your body, mind and spirit with innovative therapies, a personalized treatment plan to ease your symptoms and emotional support services. We focus on your treatment so that you can focus on living the life you love.
Here’s what to know about MS and how we can help.
What Causes Multiple Sclerosis?
Maybe you noticed a tingling in your fingers one day. Or maybe you're experiencing long-term neurological symptoms. With MS, an immune-mediated process happens, in which an abnormal response of the body’s immune system is directed against the central nervous system.
In other words, many people diagnosed with MS experience a variety of symptoms that could impact their health, lifestyle and day-to-day activities. However, the specific cause is not known.
Scientists believe MS is triggered by a combination of factors, such as:
There are three basic disease courses of MS, depending on the frequency of episodes. Here is a breakdown of MS types:
Relapsing-Remitting MS (RRMS)
This is characterized by periods of relapses (new symptoms or a new worsening of older symptoms) that subside, with full or partial recovery, and no disease progression between relapses.
Primary Progressive MS (PPMS)
This is characterized by a gradual but steady progression of disability from the onset of symptoms, with few or no relapses or remissions.
Secondary Progressive MS (SPMS)
This follows relapsing-remitting MS in some people and is characterized by a more progressive course, with or without relapses or new MRI activity.
Clinically Isolated Syndrome (CIS)
This is the first episode of neurologic symptoms caused by inflammation and demyelination in the central nervous system.
Radiologically Isolated Syndrome (RIS)
This occurs when imaging is obtained for other reasons, such as headache, and the MRI appears similar to multiple sclerosis, though the patient has not experienced a clinical syndrome.
Who Gets Multiple Sclerosis?
Globally, more than 2.3 million people have been diagnosed with MS. Right now, nearly 1 million people are living with MS in the U.S., according to a study funded by the National MS Society.
More than two to three times as many women develop MS compared to men.
And while MS is not contagious or directly inherited, about 15% of people with MS have one or more family members who also has MS, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
Where You Live
While a definitive cause isn’t known, epidemiologists have identified factors in the distribution of MS around the world that may eventually help determine what causes the disease. So, where someone lives may make them more at-risk, as well.
For example, the further someone is from the equator, the higher the rates of MS tend to be. In the southern states of the U.S., there are between 57 and 78 cases per 100,000 people. This is compared to the northern states where there’s 110 to 140 cases per 100,000 people, or about twice as many as the southern states.
Canada is the country with the highest prevalence of MS, while the United States is not ranked among the top 10 countries.
MS Symptoms and Treatment
Symptoms of MS occur due to damage of the central nervous system, which includes the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves. Symptoms can be unpredictable and vary from person to person.
“The most common symptoms are weakness of an arm or leg, loss of sensation, pain with eye movement and changes in vision typically in one eye, or double vision.” explains Dr. Mizell.
Patients may also experience fatigue, poor coordination, imbalance, pain, depression and problems with memory and concentration, though these symptoms can occur in many diseases and do not confirm a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis.
When it comes to managing pain and discomfort, MS cannot be cured, but can be treated. “There are now FDA-approved medications that have been shown to modify the course of MS by limiting new areas of damage in the central nervous system, reducing the number of relapses and delaying progression of disability,” Dr. Mizell adds.
Treatments for MS can include:
- Disease Modifying Therapies
- Treatment of relapses
- Plasma exchange
- Symptomatic Management
- Muscle spasm
- Neuropathic pain
Caring for You
Exceptional care is about more than just treating the physical symptoms of MS. We also aim to ease your mind and lift your spirit, so you can approach this journey with hope, courage and strength. Make an appointment to see Dr. Mizell and begin your path towards healing.