Exercise and Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease. The immune system uses antibodies to search for invaders (pathogens) of the body. Antibodies typically are used by the autoimmune system to seek and destroy pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, and infection. Individuals with autoimmune diseases often have unusual antibodies circulating in their blood that target their own body tissues.
MS damages the insulating myelin of the central nervous system resulting in inflammation. Episodes of inflammation can occur randomly with varying degrees of severity, duration, and frequency. Myelin is the fatty tissue that insulates nerves and allows for smooth conduction along the neural pathways within the central nervous system. This smooth conduction results in coordinated movement. With MS, there is a loss of myelin that effects this coordination of movement. Symptoms include spasticity, impaired balance, lack of coordination, fatigue, muscle weakness and/or some degree of paralysis, sensory loss, numbness, heat sensitivity, tremor, and cardiovascular dysautonomia (a dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system which may cause problems with reduction in blood pressure response and cardioacceleration which effects the heart rate and force of the heartbeat).