What Causes Multiple Sclerosis?

Those who have become victims of Multiple Sclerosis, either directly or through the suffering of a close friend or family member with the disease, can only wonder just how it could have happened. While the cure is unknown, and treatments are limited, there are some pieces of information out there that might prove to be useful to you.

To get a better understanding of what causes Multiple Sclerosis, it is important to comprehend just what the disease does. When a person has Multiple Sclerosis, they will experience degeneration of the nerves of the central nervous system. The nerves of the brain and spinal cord are inflamed with lesions, or plaques, and are stripped of myelin. Myelin is the sheath of fatty insulation that wraps around the axons of the neurons in the brain. It helps regulate the speed in which messages are sent from the brain to the body.

When the neurons lose their myelin sheath, the brain in no longer to communicate with the rest of the body as it should. So, when a disease such as Multiple Sclerosis occurs, any of the body’s functions can be affected. The patient may have trouble with their vision, their speech, their motor skills- no two cases are exactly alike, and they are as individual as the patient who has it. Some patients will experience episodes of weakness of the limbs and other symptoms, and then feel normal in between flare ups, while other patients will feel as though their motor skills steadily and gradually deteriorating.

Most people are diagnosed with MS as young adults. The condition is more common in females and Caucasians, though it is unclear why. A person is not born with Multiple Sclerosis, and it is not a genetic disease, though studies show that those with a family history of the disease may be more susceptible to it. Research has also shown that those who live far from the equator might be more likely to get MS, which could attribute to the condition being partially caused by environmental factors such as low exposure to Vitamin D in sunlight.

A separate disease, called Chronic Cerebrospinal Venous Insufficiency, or CCSVI, is theorized to be linked as one of many possible multiple sclerosis causes. Those with CCSVI do not necessarily have Multiple Sclerosis, however. The condition is characterized by problematic veins leading back from the central nervous system to the heart, which causes difficulties in blood flow. While a surgery to essentially “stretch” the veins has been developed, and though it is rarely performed outside of medical trials. Many medical professionals argue that the surgery is too risky and might do more harm than good, though more evidence to support it might soon become available.

Diseases of The Nervous System – Multiple Sclerosis – Effects on Walking

1.) What is Multiple sclerosis (MS)?

Multiple sclerosis is a chronic disease that attacks the central nervous system (CNS). It is considered to be a chronic and often times disabling disease. The CNS includes the brain, spinal cords and optic nerves. Symptoms of multiple sclerosis may vary and can include numbness in the limbs, or it may become more severe and develop into paralysis or loss of vision. The severity and progress of this disease are unpredictable and will vary actually from person to person.

2.) MS, an Autoimmune Disease

What does this mean? – An autoimmune disease is when the body's own defenses attack the nervous system. In other words, the body's defenses will attack the myelin, which are the fatty substances that surround and protect nerve fibers of the CNS. When these nerve fibers get damaged, the myelin then forms scar tissue (otherwise known as sclerosis). As a result of damaged or destroyed nerve fibers, nerve impulses that travel to and from the brain and spinal cord can be disturbed. Meaning that transmission of these impulses can be interrupted; This can produce a variety of symptoms.

3.) The Cause of Multiple Sclerosis

While the exact cause of this disease is not known, scientists currently believe that there are a combination of several factors that lead to MS. These factors include:

A.) Environmental

Ms is known to occur more often in areas of the world that are farther from the equator. Studies have shown that when a person is born in an area with a high risk and then move to an area of ​​lower risk, before the age of 15, the person can acquire the risk of the new area. – Some researchers attribute this to the amount of vitamin D that a person will receive, as a result of living in each area, due to sunlight.

B.) Genetic

While multiple sclerosis is not hereditary, it has been shown that individuals with a first-degree relative, parent or sibling with MS, does increase the risk of developing the disease.

4.) Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis

Balance and weakness problems can develop when a person suffers from MS. This can affect the way a person walks or moves and as a result, this can decrease individual's quality of life. Some methods of treatment can help individuals that have these walking problems.

Walking Problems and Multiple Sclerosis – Treatment Options

When an individual has walking problems that develop from MS, they can benefit from working with their local licensed orthotist. These individuals are brace specialists and can provide you with a specific type of brace called an AFO that will assist in balance, gait stride and walking speed. People are now also using a device called the WalkAide to help with foot drop due to MS as well. This is an FDA approved device that is getting a lot of attention in the medical field as a way to help people walk if they have drop foot due to multiple sclerosis.