Saturday, December 24, 2016

2016 Top MS News Stories

Medical research and new medications dominated the top multiple sclerosis (MS) news stories of 2016. From the 21st Century Cures Act to new drug approvals and increased research funding, people living with MS are encouraged that answers to some of the most vexing disease questions are right around the corner and treatment options continue to expand.

People with MS are also at the center of research with projects that take patient engagement to a new level. For example, iConquerMS, a patient-governed initiative of the Accelerated Cure Project for Multiple Sclerosis, launched the REAL MS (Research Engagement About Life with Multiple Sclerosis) longitudinal study, which intends to answer important questions about the diversity of the experiences of people living with MS and to identify ways to personalize clinical care by identifying factors that affect progression and treatment outcomes. Members of the iConquerMS community can participate by answering online questionnaires about their disease experience and by providing biosamples for molecular analysis. Members can also suggest topics for future research projects.

Read this post in its entirety:
Top Multiple Sclerosis News For 2016

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Reasons You Might Need Another MRI Scan

Before I was officially diagnosed, I had undergone several of these tests multiple times. For example, I had six MRI scans between the first time my vision “seemed off” in 1994, the time I was temporarily blind in 2000, and when I lost the use of my left hand and arm in 2005. Since my diagnosis I’ve had eight additional MRI scans, each including one to three areas of the central nervous system: brain, cervical spine, or thoracic spine.

Only a few times have I questioned, “Do I really need another MRI right now?”

Top three reasons you might need another MRI

Confirm diagnosis. To diagnose MS, there must be objective evidence that damage to myelin — the fatty substance that covers and protects nerve cells — occurred in two different locations of the central nervous system at two different points in time. The use of gadolinium— a contrast agent injected into a vein during an MRI scan — can help the radiologist distinguish between new “active” lesions and old lesions.

If both active and non-active lesions are seen on scans conducted during a single session, then MS diagnostic criteria may be met. However, it is more likely that repeat MRI scans will be needed to demonstrate that multiple (many) scleroses (scars) have occurred at different points in time and confirm a diagnosis of MS.

Read this post in its entirety:
Why Do I Need To Get Another MRI Scan?

Monday, December 19, 2016

Use of Spinal Tap in MS Diagnosis

What is cerebrospinal fluid?

The central nervous system (CNS) is bathed in a clear, colorless liquid, called cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), that cushions and protects the brain and spinal cord. CSF is produced in the ventricles and helps to transfer waste products from the brain to the vascular system. It can also deliver nutrients and hormones to the brain. CSF is composed of cells, water, proteins, sugars, and other vital substances. Examining the fluid can help doctors to identify diseases affecting the central nervous system, including MS.

How is CSF collected?

Cerebrospinal fluid is obtained through a needle that is inserted into the spine during a procedure called lumbar puncture or spinal tap. For this procedure, the patient will usually lay on their side with their back arched (chin and knees tucked toward the chest). An area of skin on the lower back is cleaned before the procedure.

After the area is anesthetized (numbed), a thin and hollow needle is carefully inserted between two lumbar bones into the spinal canal, the space where the CSF circulates.

You may feel slight pressure as the needle is inserted. It’s very important to stay perfectly still during the procedure.

Read this post in its entirety:
Do I Need A Spinal Tap To Diagnose MS?

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Evoked Potential Testing in MS

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a complex demyelinating disease of the central nervous system for which there is no single diagnostic test. Common tools used to diagnose MS include the neurological exam, complete medical history, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and evoked potential (EP) studies.

What are evoked potentials?

As the brain “talks” to various parts of the body, messages are sent as electrical signals that travel along nerves. Demyelination and neurodegeneration caused by MS can disrupt these electrical signals. Evoked potential studies, also called evoked potentials (EPs), measure signals that travel through specific sensory nerve pathways in response to external stimuli. Those electrical signals are measured through sensors placed on the skin in combination with sophisticated computer programs.

Read this post in its entirety:
Evoked Potential Tests: How Are They Used In MS?

Friday, December 16, 2016

Improving End-of-Life Care With MS

Discussions about end-of-life issues are often taboo in our culture — until we are "suddenly" faced with unpleasant realities and challenging decisions. Although many deaths occur unexpectedly, a large number of deaths follow a prolonged period of decline in health due to a progressive disease. This path of decline has been termed "progressive dwindling."

Four broad trajectories of dying in an aging population were identified in a study of Medicare beneficiaries:

  • Twenty percent of deaths followed illnesses, such as cancer, characterized by a clear clinical transition from treatable to untreatable progression.
  • Twenty percent of deaths were related to progressive long-term conditions, such as COPD, complicated by acute attacks that increase the likelihood of death.
  • Twenty percent of deaths were classified as sudden deaths, such as those following a fatal heart attack or accident.
  • Forty percent of deaths followed a prolonged period of progressive dwindling associated with conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease or other degenerative conditions.

Read this post in its entirety:
Living with Advanced MS: Improving End-of-Life Care

Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Process of Being Diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis

Being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) is a multi-step process that can take anywhere from days to years. Unfortunately, MS is not a condition where you walk into your primary care doctor’s office because of unusual symptoms, and you walk out of the office with a definitive diagnosis. Reporting your symptoms to your doctor is only the first step.

Step one: Early symptoms and preliminary tests

The neurological exam is the first step in trying to solve th
e mystery as to whether MS might be the cause of your symptoms. The doctor will look for signs to indicate that something may not be functioning as expected within the central nervous system (CNS) that includes the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves.

To help eliminate potential causes of symptoms, your doctor may order some preliminary blood tests to rule out conditions such as vitamin B12 deficiency, lupus, autoimmune disease, Lyme disease, syphilis, or HIV. If the results come back normal, your doctor may then order an MRI of the brain and/or spinal cord.

Read this post in its entirety:
How Long Does It Take To Be Diagnosed With MS?

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Surviving the Holidays with MS

The holiday season offers many opportunities to relax, party, shop, spend time with family and friends, travel, eat lots of goodies, and have fun. However, for people living with chronic diseases like multiple sclerosis (MS), the change in routine can take its toll, especially if you go-go-go until you drop.

How can you protect yourself against the consequences of holiday fun?

Remember that MS is a constant companion. Just because there are so many cool things to do during the limited number of days of the holiday season doesn’t mean that you should neglect your own health. Continue to eat nutritious food and respect your body’s need for exercise and rest.

Stay hydrated. Holiday parties frequently offer special drinks, particularly alcoholic beverages. This is not the time to substitute your eight glasses of water each day with eight glasses of wine, beer, or eggnog. To compensate for the dehydrating effects of alcohol, increase your water intake. Alternate a glass of wine with a glass of water to keep those brain cells plumped up and hydrated.

Read this post in its entirety:
MS Doesn't Take a Holiday

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Urinary Problems and Multiple Sclerosis

Many people with multiple sclerosis (MS) experience urinary problems at some point. Common problems associated with MS, often caused by neurogenic bladder, include frequent urination, urinary urgency and/or hesitancy, urinary incontinence, difficulty urinating, incomplete urination, and recurrent bladder infections. Conservative treatments include adjusting fluid intake, pelvic floor exercises, oral anticholinergic medications, avoidance of certain foods/alcohol, and self-catheterization.

How common are urinary problems in MS?

In a survey of 1,047 people with MS conducted by the North American Research Committee on Multiple Sclerosis (NARCOMS), 966 participants (92 percent) reported experiencing at least one lower urinary tract symptom, the most common being post-void dribbling (64.9 percent), urinary urgency (61.7 percent), and a feeling of incomplete emptying (60.7 percent). Eight hundred twenty-six participants (79 percent) reported having some type of urinary incontinence.

Read this post in its entirety:
Do I Need To See A Urologist For MS?