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Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

Definition

MS is a progressive autoimmune disease, that interferes with nerve impulses from the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves. It is characterised by “sclerosis” -meaning “scars”. These scars occur within the central nervous system and can manifest into various symptoms (1)

Statistics

  • Over 2 million are diagnosed worldwide
  • Those in cooler climates have been found to have a higher incidence
  • The onset is often slow (0-5 years aggressive, 0-30 years gradual)
  • Occurs most commonly 20-40 years of age1

Australia

  • 25,000 live with MS in Australia
  • It is the most common of the central nervous system diseases
  • Women are affected approximately three times as often as men (1)

New Zealand

  • Around 5,000 live with MS in New Zealand or 1 in 1000 people (2)

Why does incontinence occur?

Within the brainstem is the pons, a specialized area that serves as a major relay centre between the brain and the bladder. The pons is responsible for coordinating the activities of the urinary sphincters and the bladder (3) 

With MS, sclerosis can affect the pons in the brain and the spinal cord. As the disease and sclerosis progresses more degeneration occurs (3)

Common symptoms as disease advances

  • Altered sensation to limbs, hands, feet or “pins and needles” sensation
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Burning pain over parts of the skin
  • Muscle spasms
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Impaired gait
  • Impaired balance
  • Decreased strength
  • Decreased dexterity
  • Paraplegia
  • Cognitive changes - worsen slowly as disease progresses 

Type Inco: EARLY to Moderate disease

Frequency

Urgency (at times this could lead to episodes of incontinence)

Functional Incontinence can develop as the disease progresses

Type Inco: Advanced disease

Neurogenic bladder and bowel 

Urinary retention 

Bowel- impacted