Multiple Sclerosis and Neurological Conditions that Affect the Spine review by KBNI Houston
There are several serious neurological disorders that adversely affect the human spine. Perhaps the best-known of these is multiple sclerosis (MS), a disease in which the patient’s immune system is compromised and breaks down the myelin sheath that protects our nerves. This breakdown diminishes the brain’s ability to communicate with other areas of your body, including your spinal cord. Due to the fact that myelin sheaths are essential for normal nerve operation, multiple sclerosis can result in the actual destruction of the nerves themselves. At present, the disease has no cure.
While certainly a serious neurological disorder, symptoms may vary widely from patient to patient depending on the severity to which the nerves are compromised. A confirmed multiple sclerosis diagnosis is often extremely difficult, given that these symptoms may disappear for months at a time, leaving doctors puzzled. Symptoms include slurred speech, fatigue, numbness or weakness in limbs, double vision, an unsteady gait, and partial or complete loss of vision. MS patients are also sometimes heat-sensitive, with differences in temperature triggering certain symptoms. Most patients experience partial or complete remission of symptoms in between episodes of the disease.
Doctors do not yet understand the cause of multiple sclerosis, or why the disease affects some patients more severely than others. What is known is that myelin sheaths (the fatty substance that acts as insulation for the nerves) help facilitate effective communication between the brain and the rest of the body. As these myelin sheaths are consumed, the body in effect “short-circuits,” with a number of negative consequences.
While multiple sclerosis can’t presently be cured, symptoms can be alleviated and managed to some degree, depending on their severity. Treatment focuses on reducing the disease’s progress while simultaneously helping patients deal with symptoms in their daily lives. Corticosteroids help reduce inflammation that occurs during symptom episodes. This inflammation may compress spinal nerves, causing excruciating pain and decreasing mobility. A plasma exchange, a procedure that mechanically separates a portion of your blood cells from your blood plasma, may be performed if multiple sclerosis patients are not responding to other intravenous treatments.
There are also a wide variety of pharmaceutical drugs to treat multiple sclerosis and other neurological disorders. Many of these drugs perform very specific functions (e.g. Fingolimod trapping immune cells in the body’s lymph nodes to reduce the frequency of MS attacks) and as such will need to be evaluated and approved on a case-by-case basis according to the patient’s needs and the doctor’s evaluation of MS’s progress. While the spinal nerves and other major nerve groups will likely not be spared manifestations of symptoms, these pharmaceutical drugs can give multiple sclerosis patients a higher quality of life and a better chance at more long-term mobility.
The Kraus Back and Neck Institute (KBNI) in Houston TX cares for patients in Houston and the surrounding areas, including Sugarland, Woodlands, Katy, Spring, Sealy, Baytown, Pearland, Beaumont, Galleria, Tomball, Conroe, Humble, Kingwood, Port Arthur, Galveston, Memorial City, Texas Medical Center (TMC) and other Texas TX cities including Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio and Austin.
Patients suffering from neck pain or lower back pain, or who have been told they may require a spine surgery, can contact the Kraus Back and Neck Institute at
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