Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease affecting the myelination of the central nervous system, leading to numerous issues regarding muscle strength, coordination, balance, sensation, vision, and even some cognitive defects. Unfortunately, the etiology of MS is not known, however, it is generally thought of and accepted as being an autoimmune disorder inside of the central nervous system (Rietberg, et al. 2004). According to a study (Noonan, et al. 2010) on the prevalence of MS, the disease affects more than 1 million people across the world, and approximately 85% of those that are affected will suffer from unpredictably occurring sessions of exacerbations and remissions. The report (Noonan, et al. 2010) found that the prevalence of MS was much higher in women than in men, and that it was also higher in non-Hispanic whites than in other racial or ethnic groups throughout the 3 regions of the United States that were studied.
Signs and Symptoms
MS causes a degeneration of the myelin around axons due to the killing off of oligodendrocytes, which are cells that make up the myelin sheath of an axon; losing myelin decreases the neuron’s ability to propagate an action potential. Since this disease affects the central nervous system, MS can cause dysfunction of both the sensory and the motor aspects of the body. Some common sensory complaints(Lundy-Ekman, 2007) of MS are tingling, numbness, and/or paresthesia in the affected area, which is variable but typically involves one or more limbs (Palace, 2001), as well as partial blindness in one eye, a decrease in vision acuity, and double vision. Lhermitte’s sign, which is a radiating shock that travels down the back or limbs, is another common characteristic of MS that affects the sensory system (Lundy-Ekman, 2007).
Motor dysfunctions include loss of muscle strength, coordination, and reflexes in the affected areas, and eye movement dysfunction. Other commonly seen issues include bladder incontinence, dysfunction/anesthesia of sexual organs (Lundy-Ekman, 2007), and fatigue.
Fatigue is defined as a decrease of either physical or mental energy, and can be attributed to issues with both the motor and/or sensory systems (Hebert, 2011). MS fatigue can also be differentiated from depression fatigue, in that other neurological symptoms are associated with it and it will fluctuate with exercise, temperature changes, and as time goes on throughout the day (Palace, 2001). There are numerous causes of the increased level of fatigue in MS patients, with the obvious one being the disease affecting the neuromuscular system and it’s axons (Hebert et al, 2011). Another possible cause is the lack of integration of the somatosensory and vestibular systems which control upright posture; the body is forced to do more work to maintain it’s upright posture, and thus, wears itself out quicker (Hebert et al, 2011).
According to another study (Paltamaa, et al, 2012), all of the various symptoms that are associated...