What is Multiple Sclerosis (MS)?
It is a chronic disease characterized clinically by episodes of attack to optic nerves, spinal cord and brain. It is believed to be caused by dysregulation of the immune response to the body. Presentation may be varied in each individual. However there are a few distinctive feature of MS which will be discussed in detail later.
What are the features?
Patients may present with weakness, paraparesis (partial paralysis of the lower limb), paresthesias (abnormal sensation, typically “pins and needles”), loss of sight, diplopia (double vision), tremor, unsteadiness, or loss of bladder function.
Why is Multiple Sclerosis so elusive to diagnose at the early part of the disease?
Symptoms and signs may point to a single lesion in the early part of the disease. Later, the disease may recur and disseminate throughout the nervous system. There may be a long period of latency (1-10 years). Clinicians would usually diagnose MS only if there is history of relapsing and remitting episodes (the symptoms will occur and disappear again) plus evidence on clinical examination.
Is MS found in Malaysia?
Yes it is. Although MS is a rare neurological disorder compare to other neurological diseases, it is the commonest neurological disease causing disability among young adults. It commonly affects young adults from the age of 16-30 years old. The incidence of MS in women is 2-3 times higher compared to men.
Is there any treatment for MS?
Yes there is. Current treatment is mainly anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive treatment. As MS is a chronic disease, the support of physical and occupational therapist, visiting nurses, and social workers are most valuable.
Dr. Tan Wee Yong (MD( UKM) CMIA MRCP (UK) MMed (Int. Med.) S’pore) is a Clinical Specialist in Neurology, Department of Neurology, Hospital Kuala Lumpur.
The Department of Neurology, Hospital Kuala Lumpur, is organizing the First Symposium on Multiple Sclerosis on the 7, 8 September 2015 at Berjaya Times Square, Kuala Lumpur. Please visit www.mss2015.com for more info.