Get Treatment For Multiple Sclerosis

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Why Choose Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital for Multiple Sclerosis Treatment?

Our hospital is renowned for providing quality healthcare to the community of Los Angeles in a warm and compassionate environment, as we highly value the comfort and well-being of our patients. If you struggle with multiple sclerosis, our team of medical professionals will design a personalized treatment plan for you so that you can experience the alleviation of your symptoms, as well as a higher quality of life. Since 1969, we have been treating people with a wide range of autoimmune diseases and will gladly offer you the treatment you need for multiple sclerosis.

As a chronic disease of the central nervous system, multiple sclerosis is one of the most common autoimmune disorders, with 300,000 to 400,000 people receiving this diagnosis in the United States every year. Because it is autoimmune, multiple sclerosis involves the immune system, which mistakenly attacks itself. It is worthy of note that multiple sclerosis is a disease that affects people differently. Accordingly, while some may experience mild symptoms, others have to struggle with severe symptoms that take a heavy toll on their quality of life.

Multiple sclerosis involves the fatty tissue that surrounds and protects nerve fibers, medically known as myelin, which is destroyed in people with this disease. The loss of myelin leads to the development of scar tissue that is referred to as sclerosis. These areas are also known as plaques or lesions. When the nerves are damaged by the loss of myelin, they can no longer conduct electrical impulses to and from the brain.

The treatment you will receive for multiple sclerosis will highly depend on your general health, the severity of your symptoms, your age, as well as on your preferences. At the moment, there is no cure for multiple sclerosis, but the disease can often be successfully kept under control with the right treatment. Thereby, the purpose of treatment is to speed recovery from attacks, slow the progression of the disease, and manage the symptoms of multiple sclerosis. However, people who experience mild symptoms of multiple sclerosis may not need any treatment. The following are the treatments for multiple sclerosis that help manage the attacks:

  • corticosteroids: medications such as oral prednisone and intravenous methylprednisolone are often prescribed to people with multiple sclerosis to reduce nerve inflammation
  • plasma exchange: during this treatment, the liquid portion of part of your blood, medically known as plasma, is removed and separated from your blood cells, which are subsequently mixed with a protein solution known as albumin and put back in your body

Furthermore, people with multiple sclerosis may require treatment with injectable or oral medications, whose purpose is to slow down the progression of their disease. The following are the most effective drugs that have proven useful in reducing  the progression of multiple sclerosis:

  • interferon beta medications: these drugs are injected under the skin or into the muscle and can alleviate the frequency and severity of relapses
  • glatiramer acetate: this medication is useful in blocking the attack of the immune system on myelin and is also injected under the skin
  • fingolimod: this medication is to be taken once a day and helps reduce the rate of relapse
  • dimethyl fumarate: this oral medication needs to be taken twice a day and is effective in reducing relapses
  • diroximel fumarate: this drug comes in the form of a capsule that should be taken once a day and is useful in reducing the rate of relapse of multiple sclerosis
  • teriflunomide: similarly to the medications listed above, this is another drug that must be taken once a day to help reduce the rate of relapses
  • siponimod: this drug needs to be taken once a day and helps slow down the progression of multiple sclerosis
  • cladribine: this medication is usually prescribed as a second-line drug for people with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis
  • ocrelizumab: this infusion treatment is a humanized monoclonal antibody medication that is used to treat both the relapsing-remitting and primary-progressive forms of multiple sclerosis
  • natalizumab: this drug is created to block the movement of potentially damaging immune cells from your bloodstream to your brain and spinal cord and may be prescribed as a first-line treatment for some people with severe multiple sclerosis or as a second-line treatment for others
  • alemtuzumab: this medication helps reduce the relapses of multiple sclerosis by targeting a protein on the surface of immune cells and depleting white blood cells and it can also reduce potential nerve damage caused by the white blood cells

In addition to medication, people with multiple sclerosis may also benefit from the following treatments:

  • physical therapy: with the help of a physical or occupational therapist, you can learn stretching and strengthening exercises and how to use devices to make it easier to perform daily tasks
  • muscle relaxants: because numerous people with multiple sclerosis experience painful or uncontrollable muscle stiffness or spasms, particularly in their legs, they may also be prescribed muscle relaxants such as baclofen, tizanidine, and cyclobenzaprine
  • medication to alleviate fatigue: since many people with multiple sclerosis suffer from chronic fatigue, they may need to take drugs to reduce this symptom, such as amantadine, modafinil, and methylphenidate
  • medication to increase the walking speed: dalfampridine is a drug that helps people with multiple sclerosis increase their walking speed

There are 3 types of multiple sclerosis, depending on the symptoms the patient is experiencing and on the patterns of the disease:

  • relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis: this is the most common type of multiple sclerosis and is characterized by clearly defined attacks of new or increasing neurologic symptoms, which are followed by periods of partial or complete recovery
  • secondary progressive multiple sclerosis: some people who initially receive a diagnosis of relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis may subsequently develop secondary progressive multiple sclerosis, which is characterized by a progressive worsening of neurologic function over time
  • primary progressive multiple sclerosis: this type of multiple sclerosis is characterized by worsening neurologic function from the onset of symptoms without early relapses or remissions

Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis

The symptoms people with multiple sclerosis experience vary in frequency and intensity, depending on the severity of their disease. However, some of the most common symptoms of multiple sclerosis fall under 3 categories and are the following:

  • primary symptoms, which are the direct result of the loss of myelin: weakness, numbness, tremors, loss of vision, pain, loss of balance, paralysis, and bladder and bowel problems
  • secondary symptoms, which include the complications that are caused by primary symptoms: paralysis that can lead to bedsores, bladder problems that may cause frequent urinary tract infections, inactivity that can result in weakness, poor posture, muscle imbalances, decreased bone density, and breathing problems, as well as becoming less mobile because of weakness and trouble swallowing that can imply a greater risk of pneumonia
  • tertiary symptoms, which refer to symptoms that are related to the job, society, and mental health and include: inability to walk or drive, the disruption of personal relationship, and depression

Diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis

There is no specific test used to diagnose multiple sclerosis. However, the diagnostic process begins with your doctor asking you about your symptoms and ruling out other similar health problems. To receive a multiple sclerosis diagnosis, you must have had 2 attacks at least one month apart and you must have at least one area of damage to the central nervous system myelin. You will subsequently undergo a neurological exam, which entails assessing the following:

  • your mental functions
  • your emotional functions
  • your language functions
  • your movement and coordination
  • your vision
  • your balance
  • your function of the 5 senses

Furthermore, your doctor will order one or more of the following diagnostic tests and exams to assign you a correct and accurate diagnosis:

  • MRI scan: this imaging test uses large magnets, sound waves, and a computer to provide your doctor with clear pictures of organs and structures within your body and can be very useful in finding plaques or scarring caused by multiple sclerosis in your body
  • cerebrospinal fluid analysis: also known as a spinal tap or a lumbar punction, during this test, a small amount of fluid will be collected from your spine, which will subsequently be examined for the cellular and chemical abnormalities that occur with multiple sclerosis
  • blood tests: blood tests are performed to rule out other causes of neurological symptoms
  • evoked potentials: this series of tests record the electrical response of the brain to visual, auditory, and sensory stimuli and will show whether you have a slowing of messages in the different parts of the brain

While there is no known cause of multiple sclerosis, medical researchers found numerous risk factors, such as:

  • autoimmune disorders: if you have certain autoimmune disorders, such as thyroid disease, pernicious anemia, psoriasis, diabetes, or inflammatory bowel disease, your risk of developing multiple sclerosis is higher
  • infectious agents such as viruses: infection with Epstein-Barr, the virus that causes mononucleosis, has been found to have a connection with multiple sclerosis
  • environmental factors: multiple sclerosis is significantly more common in countries with temperate climates such as Canada, the northern United States, New Zealand, southeastern Australia, and Europe
  • vitamin D deficiency: people with low levels of vitamin D are more prone to developing multiple sclerosis
  • tobacco smoking: smokers who experience the first series of symptoms of multiple sclerosis are more prone than nonsmokers to develop a second event that confirms the diagnosis of relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis
  • race: Caucasian people, especially those of Northern European descent, have the highest risk of developing multiple sclerosis, whereas people of Asian, African, or Native American descent have the lowest risk
  • family history: if one of your close family members struggles with multiple sclerosis, your chances of developing it are considerably increased
  • sex: women are 2 to 3 times more likely to develop multiple sclerosis than men
  • age: while multiple sclerosis can occur at any age, the demographic that is most affected are people between the ages of 20 and 40

In addition to following the treatment prescribed by your doctor to help you manage the symptoms of multiple sclerosis, you may want to try alternative therapies that have proven to be effective in keeping this disorder under control, such as:

  • exercise: some types of physical activities, such as tai chi and yoga, can lower your stress levels, help you relax, and increase your energy, balance, and flexibility
  • massage: numerous people who struggle with multiple sclerosis go to massage sessions to help manage their symptoms, as this alternative therapy helps individuals relax and reduces their stress levels, as well as alleviates their depression
  • acupuncture: this ancient practice, which entails inserting thin needles through certain parts of your body, has proven to be effective in managing the symptoms of multiple sclerosis, as it relieves pain, muscle spasms, and bladder control problems
  • evening primrose oil: also known as linoleic acid, this oil can be found in sunflower seeds and safflower oil and there is evidence that taking it as a dietary supplement may reduce the intensity of your multiple sclerosis symptoms
  • marijuana: if you live in a state where medicinal marijuana is legal, you may want to try it, as there is proof that smoking it or ingesting it relieves muscle spasms and other multiple sclerosis symptoms
  • pulsed electromagnetic field therapy: recent medical studies found that pulsing magnetic fields through the body can help with the pins and needles feeling associated with multiple sclerosis
  • reflexology: during a reflexology session, a trained therapist, professionally known as a reflexologist, will apply gentle pressure to the soles of your feet or, sometimes, your hands, which may help reduce the symptoms of multiple sclerosis

Although there is no known way to prevent multiple sclerosis from developing, you may be able to slow down the progress of this disorder by doing the following:

  • going to the doctor as soon as you notice bothersome symptoms
  • having a diet rich in nutritious foods
  • maintaining a healthy weight, as obesity may be a risk factor for multiple sclerosis
  • engaging in physical activity regularly
  • ensuring an adequate level of vitamin D in your body
  • quitting smoking tobacco, as this is another risk factor

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