This week (30th April - 6th May) is MS Awareness Week and the Multiple Sclerosis Trust are reminding people to Be Bold in Blue in order to raise awareness of this common neurological condition, the most common condition of its kind in the UK. Senior doctors have warned that not enough is known about MS and that most people in the country do not understand the symptoms of multiple sclerosis, nor its prognosis or treatment.
Multiple sclerosis typically affects young adults and around 100,000 people in the UK have been diagnosed with this autoimmune condition. It is caused by nerve damage in the central nervous system, which disturbs the messages being sent to and from the brain leading to problems in conscious and unconscious actions within the body. MS is not genetic or directly inherited but if one of your parents has MS you are 40 times more likely to develop it yourself, however, the chances of developing this twice in a family is extremely rare. Theories as to the causes of MS range from environmental factors, as MS is more common in countries nearer the poles such as the UK, USA and Scandinavia; to bacteria, viruses, and a lack of vitamin D.
To raise awareness, the Multiple Sclerosis Trust have organised a number of ‘blue’ events such as blue cake sales, blue mufti days and blue hair days. Events for the remainder of the week include highlighting the important work carried out by MS nurses and a Secret Art Show to raise funds for the Trust.
Do you know the symptoms and treatments of multiple sclerosis?
Symptoms are often similar to the symptoms of stroke and include slurred speech and paralysis but also include tremor, problems with movement or coordination, speech difficulties and bladder problems. Although there is no cure for multiple sclerosis, new treatments are being developed all the time to relieve the symptoms. The Multiple Sclerosis Society UK has identified a number of drugs which can reduce the frequency of relapses including Gilyena although these will not be effective for primary progressive MS.[image2]
The traditional treatments to alleviate the symptoms of multiple sclerosis include disease modifying drugs, exercise/physiotherapy, speech therapy, and changes to diet.
New treatments for multiple sclerosis include:
The last decade has seen huge advances in neurosurgery and neurological treatments for a number of conditions including MS. These treatments aim to improvement movements and minimise tremor with the benefit of having very few side effects, unlike traditional drug therapies. Neuromodulation, in the form of Deep Brain Stimulation, can help over 80% of MS sufferers by improving their tremor. The treatment works by inserting electrodes in the brain which are connected to a battery pacemaker; the system is turned on and passes out a mild current of electricity to change the function of faulty nerves. Mr Keyoumars Ashkan, Consultant Neurosurgeon at King’s College Hospital, writes that:
Unlike the traditional concept of surgery which involves making changes to the structure of the body to treat disease, neuromodulation acts to change the function in a new and innovative way.
Consultant-Search has a range of specialists who treat multiple sclerosis and can arrange appointments for patients. If you are interested in getting involved in MS Awareness Week and finding out how to stay well after diagnosis, the Multiple Sclerosis Trust are organising a group skydiving event on Saturday 5th May in Swindon and a national information campaign on healthy topics such as exercise, food and drink, sexuality and mental health. For more information, click here.