Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease in which the fatty myelin sheaths around the axons of the brain and spinal cord are damaged, leading to demyelination and scarring as well as a broad spectrum of signs and symptoms. This disease usually occurs in younger adults, and it is more common in women.
MS affects the ability of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord to communicate with each other. Nerve cells communicate by sending electrical signals along nerve fibers, which are wrapped in an insulating substance called myelin. In MS, the body's own immune system attacks and damages the myelin. When myelin is lost, the axons can no longer effectively conduct signals.
The name multiple sclerosis is somewhat outdated, as it refers to scars (“scleroses”), which are now more commonly known as plaques or lesions, in the white matter of the brain and spinal cord. The great difficulty in early diagnosis of MS is that almost any neurological symptom can appear and confuse the clinical presentation. This is why specialists in MS have to be excellent at integrative diagnosis and very attentive to the patient. Unfortunately, this disease often progresses to physical and cognitive disability, thus making proper management an absolute necessity.
MS takes several forms, with new symptoms occurring either in discrete attacks (relapsing forms) or slowly accumulating over time (progressive forms). Between attacks, symptoms may go away completely, but permanent neurological problems often occur, especially as the disease advances.
There is no known cure for MS. Treatments attempt to return function after an attack, prevent new attacks, and prevent disability.
Dr. Katz is on the forefront of the clinical approach to MS management. She has developed and implemented a number of state-of-the-art treatment protocols in her Infusion Center.