MIAMI LAKES, Fla. – Nearly one million people in the U.S. are living with multiple sclerosis, or MS.
While there is no cure for this chronic condition that affects the central nervous system, there are treatment therapies that can help patients deal with the disease.
Shortly after the birth of her second child in 2022, Emily Cadavid noticed a numbness that started in one toe and gradually spread.
“My feet were numb -- it would ride up to my legs. I had intense back pains that felt like somebody is stabbing me,” she said.
When repeated scans, blood work and even a spinal tap came back inconclusive, Cadavid was given an 8-week dose of steroids that failed to help.
It was finally during a visit to Dr. Flavia Nelson, director of the Multiple Sclerosis Center at UHealth, that a diagnosis was made.
Cadavid had “clinically isolated syndrome,” which is an early form of MS.
“It’s an autoimmune disorder, meaning your own immune system is attacking your brain and your spinal cord, and when it attacks it, there’s inflammation that destroys the myelin sheath that protects the nerves but also it can destroy the nerves and that can lead to what we call irreversible disability,” the doctor said.
Nelson said MS typically strikes people in their younger years, usually between the ages of 20 to 40, and affects women more than men.
“Fifty percent of them will have difficulty walking after 15 years or so,” Nelson said.
Along with medication, Cadavid is trying to ease her stress levels both at home and in her position as a producer at Local 10 News.
She’s also changed her diet and utilizes holistic therapies, all of which she hopes will slow or even stop the progression of the disease.
“I’m thankful I had this episode as early as I did because I only have a little bit of damage. Hopefully it doesn’t get to the other categories of MS. We’re hoping it stops at this. I had one episode. I can take my medication and live a fairly normal life,” she said.
Early intervention is key in fighting MS.
Newer treatments and even stem cell transplants are helping improve the quality of life of patients with MS.