Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic inflammatory disease of the central nervous system. The exact causes have not yet been fully clarified. It is certain that in the case of a disease, misdirected endogenous immune cells attack the protective sheath of nerve fibers as well as nerve cells directly. Since such inflammatory foci can occur throughout the central nervous system, the course of MS can vary greatly.
"Multiple sclerosis is a disease with 1.000 faces; there is no such thing as the classic case," knows Prof. Dr. Frank Weber, Head Physician of Neurology at the Sana Clinics of the District of Cham. In the past years, the experienced specialist has dealt intensively with the disease and has made a name for himself in research and science, including internationally. In addition, he has already been included four times – for his expertise in the treatment of multiple sclerosis – as one of the best neurologists in Germany in the Focus list of physicians.
Disease frequency: Mostly young adults develop the disease
MS is the most common chronic disease of the central nervous system in young adults. More than 200.000 people are affected in Germany alone. Often the diagnosis is made between the age of 20. and 40. The disease is most commonly diagnosed at the age of 50, but it also affects children and adolescents or older people. The disease can cause a wide variety of neurological symptoms. Bring restrictions with them. These include visible symptoms such as paralysis as well as invisible symptoms such as numbness. "MS causes inflammatory lesions in the brain and spinal cord. These inflammatory foci – also known as black holes when severe – can affect a wide variety of areas and thus also influence various abilities such as grasping, seeing or walking," explains Prof. Dr. Weber. Other symptoms such as fatigue, a chronic fatigue syndrome, or memory problems can occur unnoticed by the layperson, but are very debilitating for the sufferer.
Course of MS: In most cases, a relapsing-remitting progression
In MS, three forms can be distinguished on the basis of clinical findings. The most common form of the disease is relapsing, i.e. a course in which there are repeated episodes of the disease. During such an episode, neurological disturbances occur for days or weeks, which regress completely or partially. In addition, there is the rarer primary chronic form, in which no relapses occur, or a course in which recurring episodes of the disease eventually lead to a chronic stage in which the patient slowly and steadily deteriorates. "The different forms of progression make a targeted. Carefully selected use of medication necessary. In any case, it is of central importance to start therapy as early as possible," emphasizes Prof. Dr. Dr. Dr. Dr. Dr. Dr. Dr. Dr. Dr. Dr. Weber.
"The goal of MS therapy is to be largely free of clinically and magnetic resonance imaging measurable disease activity," the expert continued. Various new drugs, such as antibodies, would be used to treat the disease. There is no general recommendation on which drug to start with. The choice of the drug therefore depends on the severity of the disease, the patient's wishes and the concomitant diseases.
"The side effects of drug therapies should also always be kept in mind. Therefore, the administration of medication must always be individually coordinated and carefully weighed up by the attending physician," says Prof. Dr. Weber. In addition, it is important to monitor the patient continuously by means of regular neurological examinations, if possible including magnetic resonance imaging, in order to be able to carry out a possibly necessary change or adjustment of the therapy promptly.
Prognosis: Modern medicine offers good chances
Multiple sclerosis is still not curable. However, the course of the disease can often be favorably influenced by a correctly applied drug therapy by an experienced physician as well as by physiotherapy, occupational therapy and logotherapy. Contrary to popular belief, MS does not necessarily lead to severe disability. Even many years after the onset of the disease, the majority of patients are still able to walk.
The diagnosis of a disease such as MS unsettles many affected people, as it turns life planning upside down and thus has an impact on the quality of life of the patient and their relatives. It is therefore all the more important that those affected do not face these challenges alone.