Symptoms and Signs of Myelin Sheath Damage in MS

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 12/17/2021

Doctor's Notes on Myelin Sheath Damage in MS

Myelin sheaths are coatings (nerve insulators) that protect and insulate nerve cells; it is a fatty material containing proteins – the coating prevents nerve impulses from entering and/or escaping the nerve except at their appropriate sites. In multiple sclerosis (MS), myelin sheaths are disrupted or destroyed leaving nerves unprotected and obtaining and/or sending nerve pulses inappropriately or not getting or sending any. Over time, scar formation (sclerosis) occurs that further disrupts nerve signals. Myelin sheath damage in multiple sclerosis may vary in people, but usually produce one or more of the following signs and symptoms:

  • Weakness and fatigue,
  • vision problems,
  • walking and balance problems,
  • libido problems,
  • pain,
  • bowel, and bladder problems cognition problems, and
  • various emotional changes like mood swings, irritability, uncontrollable crying, or laughing.

The cause of myelin sheath damage and destruction is the body’s immune system that inappropriately attacks the sheaths (likely the protein[s] in myelin) and exposes the nerve fibers so they cannot function normally. Scar formation further disrupts nerve signals.

What is the treatment of myelin sheath damage resulting in MS?

Although some patients have mild symptoms and do not require treatments, there is no cure for the damaged sheaths. Treatments are designed to recover from attacks faster and to slow disease progression and decrease symptoms. The following are used for some myelin sheath-related MS attacks:
  • Oral and IV Corticosteroids
  • Plasma exchange (plasmapheresis)
Treatments to modify MS progression (injectable): Treatments to modify MS progression include (oral): Treatments to modify MS progression (infused):  Other treatments may include:
  • Physical therapy
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Fatigue reducers
  • Other medicines (for various associated symptoms like depression, pain, sexual dysfunction, walking speed, bladder and bowel control, and other problems)

Your doctors can set up a treatment plan for your myelin sheaths related MS problems.

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.