Multiple sclerosis (MS) is thought to affect around 100,000 people in the UK, making it one of the most common neurological conditions in young adults. It affects nerves in the brain and spinal column and causes difficulties with movement, sight and vision. It can also affect mental reasoning and cause fatigue.
Jack Osbourne’s shock diagnosis at just 26 is not unusual for MS. Symptoms tend to begin between the ages of 15 and 45 and most sufferers are diagnosed in their late 20s or early 30s. New dad Osbourne revealed his sadness and anger at his illness, which was diagnosed following the loss of 60 per cent of his eyesight in one eye (a common symptom).
You can’t ‘catch’ MS and it’s not thought to be hereditary, though there is an increased risk if members of your family suffer from the condition. It’s believed to be autoimmune, meaning that the body’s immune system goes wrong and begins to attack itself. In this case, the body’s immune system attacks the protective myelin that surrounds nerves in the brain and spinal cord.
Common symptoms of MS
These vary from person to person and it’s unlikely for sufferers to experience all of them.
- Numbness and tingling
- Blurring of vision or loss of sight, particularly in one eye
- Mobility problems and difficulty balancing
- Muscle weakness and tightness or spasms
Pain. This is either directly caused by the MS and experienced as a stabbing or burning sensation or it can be indirect. Musculoskeletal pain can also occur as excess pressure is put on the muscles and joints by spasms and mobility problems.
Extreme tiredness. This is experienced by nine in 10 MS sufferers and is felt as an overwhelming sense of lethargy and weariness. It can be one of the most difficult symptoms to deal with on a day to day basis.
MS can also lead to other conditions such as depression and anxiety, sexual problems and incontinence. In the early stages, it can also affect thinking, memory and problem solving.
Though there is still no cure for multiple sclerosis, treatment can help slow symptoms and reduce the severity of them. This includes drug therapy, physiotherapy and lifestyle changes that can help sufferers live more comfortably with their symptoms.
Find our more about MS and living with it on the MS society website.