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Multiple sclerosis

Related Terms

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Background

  • Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic (long-term), progressive, degenerative disorder that affects nerve fibers in the brain and spinal cord. Multiple sclerosis is widely believed to be an autoimmune disease, a condition in which the immune system attacks components of the body as if they are foreign.
  • A fatty substance, called myelin, surrounds and insulates nerve fibers and facilitates the conduction of nerve impulse transmissions. MS is characterized by damage to myelin (called demyelination) caused by the destruction of specialized cells (oligodendrocytes) that form the myelin. Demyelination causes scarring and hardening (sclerosis) of nerve fibers usually in the spinal cord, brain stem, and optic nerves, which slows nerve impulses and results in weakness, numbness, pain, and vision loss.
  • Because different nerves are affected at different times, MS symptoms often worsen, improve, and develop in different areas of the body. Early symptoms of the disorder may include vision changes, such as blurred vision or blind spots, and muscle weakness.
  • MS can progress steadily or cause acute attacks (exacerbations) followed by partial or complete reduction in symptoms (remission). Most individuals with the disease have a normal lifespan.
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Types of Multiple Sclerosis

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Risk Factors and Causes

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Signs and Symptoms

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Diagnosis

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Complications

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Treatment

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Integrative Therapies

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Prevention and Self-Management

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Author Information

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References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.