Multiple System Atrophy

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Multiple System Atrophy


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What is multiple system atrophy (MSA)?

What are the symptoms and signs of multiple system atrophy (MSA)?

How is multiple system atrophy (MSA) diagnosed?

How common is multiple system atrophy (MSA)?

What are the treatments for multiple system atrophy (MSA)?

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What is multiple system atrophy (MSA)?

Multiple system atrophy (MSA) is a progressive neurological disease characterized by symptoms affecting movement and other body systems. The disease affects both the motor system, responsible for coordinating muscle movements, and the autonomic nervous system, which controls important functions such as heart rate, blood pressure, and bladder control.

The symptoms of multiple system atrophy are caused by a loss of nerve cells in different areas of the brain and spinal cord, but the cause of this degeneration is unknown.

There are two types of multiple system atrophy, and diagnosis is based on which symptoms are most prominent at your initial evaluation:

  • MSA-P – The parkinsonian type of MSA shares some of the physical characteristics of Parkinson’s disease, such as tremor and stiffness.
  • MSA-C – The cerebellar type of MSA may be denoted by difficulty swallowing, slurred speech, or a quavering voice.

 

What are the symptoms and signs of multiple system atrophy (MSA)?

The symptoms of multiple system atrophy, which typically begin around age 55 and progress over time, may include:
  • blurred vision
  • constipation
  • impotence in men
  • loss of balance
  • low blood pressure
  • rigidity
  • slowed movements
  • speech and swallowing difficulties
  • stiffness
  • urinary difficulty

 

How is multiple system atrophy (MSA) diagnosed?

Like many movement disorders, the diagnosis of multiple system atrophy is based on a thorough physical and neurological exam, as well as additional tests that may include:
  • autonomic function tests
  • DaTSCAN
  • MRI
  • PET scan
  • urine analysis and other tests to evaluate bladder function

 

How common is multiple system atrophy (MSA)?

MSA is rare, occurring in only about two to five of every 100,000 people.

 

What are the treatments for multiple system atrophy (MSA)?

There is no cure for MSA; however, treatment of symptoms can help improve your quality of life. For example, medication used to treat Parkinson’s disease may be used to treat symptoms such as tremor and stiffness. Blood pressure and bladder control issues can often be managed.

Speech and physical therapy are prescribed to help with swallowing issues and muscle spasms. The goal of treatment is to help you remain mobile as long as possible.

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How can we help you?

To schedule an appointment with a physician please call (602) 406-6262.

To schedule an appointment with therapy services please call (602) 406-5266.

Community Outreach and Education programs are available to anyone with Parkinson’s disease regardless of where medical care is received. Please call (602) 406-4921 for more information.

Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center and Movement Disorders Clinic
Barrow Neurological Institute
240 West Thomas Road
Phoenix, Arizona 85013

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Barrow Neurological Institute
350 W. Thomas Road
Phoenix, AZ 85013
(602) 406-3000