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MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS

T

he centers specialize in the diagnosis, treatment and follow up of Multiple Sclerosis patients and provide the patient with optimal state-of-the-art care.

Multiple sclerosis is a chronic disease involving demyelization of the central nervous system. That is, a disease in which the myelin sheath of the nerves in the brain and spinal cord are injured at a number of foci (called "plaques"). These "plaques" are concentrated in the "white material" of the brain and the spinal cord, in particular surrounding the chambers of the brain and the visual nerves. The white material of the brain is all the area characterized by a high density of myelin-enveloped fibers as in these same areas there are few neurons (which are located in the "grey matter" in the brain sheath), multiple sclerosis affects only the branching of the cells, and consequently, for the most part, does not cause severe cognitive damage analogous to that of Alzheimer`s.

Multiple sclerosis is considered an inflammatory autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the myelin self-proteins. Due to the injury in the myelin which acts as a protective sheath on all the nerve fibers, and as "insulating" material facilitating the transfer of electrical signals, this results in disruptions in the delivery of electrical "messages" in the brain and spinal cord, and deficiencies/disturbances in the functioning of one or more nervous systems such as the motor system, perception, stability and coordination system, vision, sphincters, eye movement, etc. 

Multiple sclerosis usually strikes individuals in their 20s and 30s. The disease is more common among people of European descent than among people of African or Far Eastern descent. There is a correlation between the disease and the geographical area in which the patient lived during the first years of his life. The disease is more prevalent in women than in men.

The common symptoms (the clinical phenomena) of multiple sclerosis include sensation disturbances ("pins and needles"), visual disorders (blurring and double vision), limb weakness, instability and lack of coordination and sphincter deficiency (incontinence).

Multiple sclerosis is a fluctuating disease and its development differs greatly from patient to patient. Not all patients stricken by the disease will arrive at a stage of requiring assistance in walking or paralysis. A significant number of patients do not suffer from interferences involving essential functions even many years after the onset of the disease and possibly never will. The rest of the patients suffer from an acute disease (benign multiple sclerosis) or an advancing/progressive illness. In some patients the illness emerges as an acute disease and later becomes progressive (secondary progressive). 

Contemporary medicine offers a wide variety of drugs aimed at alleviating the symptoms and slowing down the progression of damage in the central nervous system. Three preparations of Interferon-b (Evonax, Ravif, Betaferon) and Copaxone are more or less effective in slowing down the progression of the disease, cutting down the number of attacks and reducing the damage to the white material in the brain. These preparations are administrated solely intracutaneously (1-3 injections per week) and it is advised to start taking them upon commencement of clinical symptoms and subsequent to indisputable diagnosis of multiple sclerosis.
Mitoxanatron: Administered in the case of aggravation of the disease and rapidly progressing illness.
Steroids: are recommended in severe cases or as a long-term treatment.
Immunosuppressive preparations: cyclophosphamide, methotrexate and Imuran are used in aggravating conditions.

Additional treatments: plasmapheresis (blood fluid filtration).
Immunoglobulin preparation - administered by intravenous infusion.

There are many other treatments which are administered to alleviate the various disease symptoms and the attending physician may be consulted regarding these treatments.