Sclerosis means scarring; in MS it is in multiple places, but in clinically isolated syndrome or CIS MS it is in one area. The scarring, known as demyelination, is damage to the myelin sheath which is a protective fatty substance that surrounds and protects nerve cells within the spinal cord and brain.


Symptoms of Clinically isolated syndrome or CIS


In most cases clinically isolated syndrome symptoms occur in one of the three main areas and these are the spinal cord, known as transverse myelitis, optic nerve, known as optic neuritis and the brainstem known as brainstem syndrome.

Spinal Cord – This occurs when scarring happens on both sides of the spinal cord, onset can be very sudden and appear within a few hours or more gradually over a couple of weeks. Symptoms depend on which part of the spinal cord is affected; however, common symptoms include muscle weakness, strange sensations in toes and feet, bladder and/or bowel problems and L’hermitte’s syndrome, which is like an electric shock that occurs when the neck is moved.

Optic Nerve – This occurs when damage is caused to the optic nerve which is responsible to sending images to the back of the eye. It can occur suddenly or over the course of a few hours. The main symptoms here include visual disturbances, such as blurry vision, and pain behind the eyeball. Blind spots can occur, as can colour blindness or impaired ability to distinguish colours.

Brainstem – This occurs when scarring is found in the brainstem, which is the area at the base of the brain which connects to the spinal cord. The brainstem is responsible for basic motor functions as well as breathing, heart rate, blood pressure and bladder control. The main symptoms experienced when this area is affected include nausea, vomiting and double vision, but they can vary depending on the area that is affected.


Treatment for Clinically isolated syndrome or CIS


Steroids can be prescribed for some bouts of clinically isolated syndrome or CIS MS, but this does depend largely on the nature of the attack and its severity. In addition, other symptomatic treatments can be administered and prescribed and these again will vary depending on the location of the attack and how severe it is. Around 85% of people who suffer from CIS will later be diagnosed with MS.