Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a potentially disabling disease affecting the central nervous system. Nearly one million individuals in the United States are living with MS, so it is important that chiropractic physicians are able to identify the characteristics of the disease process.
The common presentation of MS begins with muscle weakness, coordination issues, vision problems, fatigue, and cognitive changes. It is more commonly found in women, and is more likely to be diagnosed in 20-40 year old individuals. The severity of MS varies widely between individuals and depends on the location and severity of nerve fiber damage in the central nervous system.
The cause of MS is unknown, and it is considered an immune mediated disease in which the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues. The immune system in MS attacks and destroys the myelin that protects nerve fibers in the brain and spinal cord. There are several risk factors related to developing MS, including family history, certain infections like Epstein-Barr, race, climate, and vitamin D. There are also several complications related to the development of MS. These individuals may develop muscle stiffness or spasm, severe weakness or paralysis in the legs, mood/cognitive problems, and bowel or bladder dysfunction.
Although there is no cure for MS, there are disease-modifying therapies that can help manage the symptoms. Chiropractic care and physical therapy are great ways to co-manage the symptoms as well. Becoming aware of more common neurological conditions is crucial in the chiropractic profession in order to better help our future patients.