Our Gables Neurology team, led by Dr. Andrew Lerman, provides highly specialized care for conditions that affect your neurological and neuromuscular health. And Dr. Lerman has significant expertise in treating multiple sclerosis (MS).
Here’s what Dr. Lerman and our team want you to know about MS and the myths versus the facts surrounding this chronic autoimmune disorder.
Understanding multiple sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disorder that causes your immune system to attack and destroy myelin cells. The myelin affected by MS forms a protective sheath around nerve fibers in your central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) and helps speed messages from your brain along your nerves.
As the myelin sheath deteriorates, your brain has difficulty communicating with the rest of your body, causing symptoms that may include:
- Blurred or double vision
- Pain in one eye
- Tingling and numbness in your arms and legs
- Muscle spasms and weakness
- Difficulty with balance and coordination
- Electric-shock sensations with bending your neck forward
Symptoms can vary greatly, depending on the location of the affected nerve(s). Most people have relapsing-remitting MS, causing flare-ups that worsen for days to weeks, followed by long periods of remission for months or years.
Check these often-repeated myths about MS versus the facts:
Myth: You won’t need treatment if you aren’t having symptoms
Disease-modifying medications taken as early as possible and throughout your disease course can help stall the progression of relapsing-remitting MS. These medicines are available in the form of injections, oral medications, or infusion treatments.
Other therapies available during a relapse include medications to counter fatigue, corticosteroids to reduce inflammation that damages myelin, and drugs to decrease dizziness.
In addition, Dr. Lerman and our team offer ongoing support and encouragement for people living with MS. You may also benefit from professional counseling to discuss your feelings and concerns.
Myth: Everyone with MS is eventually unable to walk
One in four people with MS may eventually need a wheelchair, cane, or another assistive device to maintain mobility during an MS flare-up. However, most people with MS live very active lives.
Myth: You shouldn’t exercise if you have MS
Remaining physically active helps counter the weakness and loss of balance associated with MS. However, check with your specialist before starting a new exercise regimen since pushing yourself too hard can exacerbate fatigue. Also, overheating can temporarily worsen MS symptoms.
Otherwise, Dr. Lerman often recommends that those with MS incorporate routine exercise into their daily schedule. He may also prescribe a physical therapy course to strengthen affected muscles.
You can ignore MS symptoms until they worsen
Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial to slowing the progression of MS. Notably, medical science continues to research the causes and effects of MS, and new therapies are being developed regularly. Developing a relationship with a specialist experienced in MS ensures you’re receiving the most advanced and effective treatments available.
Myth: MS is more common in people over 50
MS can affect people of any age, including children and seniors, but it’s more common from ages 22-50. Additionally, women are more likely than men to develop MS, leading researchers to think hormonal shifts may play a role.
Myth: Your life stops when you’re diagnosed with MS
Like diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic conditions, MS does have a learning curve and may require some changes in your life. For instance, you may need to develop healthier nutrition and exercise habits and ensure you get 7-8 hours of restful sleep nightly. However, most people with MS continue with the daily routines, jobs, and hobbies they enjoy.
For outstanding neurological care, including highly effective treatment for MS, schedule a visit by calling our Miami, Florida, office today.