Multiple Sclerosis

By: Joe Swails

What is multiple sclerosis?
Multiple sclerosis is a disease which affects your muscle control and therefore affects your overall mobility. This is due to problems with your nerves. It is mainly the nerves in your brain and spinal chord (i.e. the process in which nerves send signals or ‘messages’ between your brain and spinal chord and to other parts of your body) which are the root cause of symptoms. Multiple sclerosis can also impact upon your sense of balance and your vision.

An autoimmune disease (that is, a disease where the body ‘attacks’ itself), multiple sclerosis develops when the outer casing around your nerves is attacked by your immune system. The medical term for your nerves’ outer casing is myelin sheaths. As your immune system attacks these sheaths they become irreparably damaged (through becoming scarred and hardened), and as a result, the sending of signals around your body is interrupted – the messages you try to send to your muscles and limbs are not received properly.

Multiple sclerosis is more common in women than men.

Symptoms of multiple sclerosis include:

Skin numbness

A tingling feeling in parts of the skin

Vision problems (e.g., loss of vision, blurred vision and/or double vision)

Mobility problems

Co-ordination problems

Loss of sense of touch

Speech problems

Difficulty swallowing

Muscle paralysis

Muscle spasms

Muscle tremors

Limb weakness and pain

Dizziness and disorientation



Tiredness (and sometimes overwhelming fatigue)

Erectile dysfunction in men

Cognitive impairment


Memory problems

Also, many people with multiple sclerosis suffer from depression. Please see contact details for the Depression Alliance in the Advice & Support section at the foot of this article.

Note: Depending upon the individual, symptoms of multiple sclerosis can vary and range from mild to severe.

Despite worldwide medical research, the exact cause of multiple sclerosis is as yet unknown. However, some healthcare professionals suggest that the disease may be caused by environmental factors – your immune system attacks your own body due to there being a virus or bacteria present which your have ‘picked up’ through being in certain environments or disposed to certain substances.

Also, it may be possible to have a genetic predisposition to developing multiple sclerosis. That is, you have a family history of it and therefore the heightened risk of you developing the condition has been passed down. However, this is not a common cause.

If you are suffering from the aforementioned symptoms of multiple sclerosis, arrange an appointment with your GP. At first, they will take your medical history and ask you some questions about your symptoms.

Getting a confirmed diagnosis of multiple sclerosis can often prove difficult because so many of the symptoms are similar to those associated with other neurological health conditions. Therefore there is no single clear cut diagnostic test for multiple sclerosis.

To monitor your condition, your GP will usually ask to see you a couple of times over a period of months before referring you to a specialist. Once other possible health conditions have been ruled out, you will then see a neurologist at your local hospital (a neurologist specialises in health conditions triggered by problems with the central nervous system).

To achieve a confirmed diagnosis, tests you may be asked to have include an MRI scan and a lumber puncture.

If a confirmed diagnosis of multiple sclerosis is made an appropriate course of treatment will be recommended to you.

Effect on your life
Although multiple sclerosis is a difficult disease to cope with, many people with the condition are still able to live independently. Having multiple sclerosis does not necessarily mean that you can no longer carry out normal everyday tasks and activities.

There is no cure for multiple sclerosis. Treatment and advice regarding self-help measures you can take is intended to help ease symptoms.

Types of treatment include:

Prescribed medicines – to help slow down the progression of the disease (e.g., Avonex and Rebif)

Prescribed steroids – these help reduce inflammation

Physiotherapy – this can help to improve muscle strength and flexibility as well as having a positive impact upon your overall balance

Complementary therapies – some people find aromatherapy and/or homeopathy can prove helpful in reducing aches and pains and improving mobility

Hw Chemist Online can help
Through this website we have a range of treatments which can help ease constipation – an associated symptom of multiple sclerosis.

We can also offer you painkilling remedies for general aches and pains.

Advice & Support
MS Society
Helpline: 0808 800 8000

Multiple Sclerosis Trust
Tel. 01462 476700

Depression Alliance
Tel: 0845 123 23 20

This information and advice is not intended to replace the advice of your GP or chemist. Chemist Online is also not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made by a user based upon the content of the Chemist Online website. Chemist Online is also not liable for the contents of any external internet sites listed, nor does it endorse any commercial product or service mentioned or advised on any of the sites.

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