TO mark the start of Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month, this week’s edition of Medical Myths will focus on the myths that surround this commonly misunderstood condition.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic disease that affects the brain and spinal cord. It is a lifelong condition that causes neurological disabilities and a wide range of symptoms.
It is immune-mediated, and most experts believe that it is an autoimmune disease.
In a person with MS, the immune system attacks myelin, the protective sheath substance that covers nerve fibers. This causes communication problems between the brain and the rest of the body.
In some cases, the disease slowly worsens over time, and doctors call this condition primary progressive MS. Other people experience “attacks,” or exacerbations, during which symptoms become worse or new symptoms appear. This is known as relapsing-remitting MS.
For some people, relapsing-remitting MS gradually worsens. The name for this condition is secondary progressive MS.
To date, it is unclear why some people develop MS and others do not, but environmental and genetic factors may play a role. Because it is not entirely clear why MS occurs, it is no surprise that myths have arisen and persisted.
In this article, we address nine of the most common myths and misconceptions about MS.
This is a myth. In reality, the MS Society explain, “Most people with MS don’t use a wheelchair.”
Fifteen years after an MS diagnosis, only 20% of people need a wheelchair, crutches, or a cane to walk, the neurologist Dr. Loren A. Rolak reports in a research paper.
The MS Society also note: “If your MS does start to affect your mobility, the decision to start using a walking stick, mobility scooter, or wheelchair can be a difficult one. But once you start using one, you may find — as many people with MS do — how useful they are and how they can help you to retain your independence.”
This is a myth. People with MS are valuable members of the workforce. It is true that some people with MS face challenges and may need to change career paths, but this is not inevitable for everyone.