What is Multiple System Atrophy?, Symptoms, Causes and Risk Factors & More

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What is Multiple System Atrophy?, Symptoms, Causes and Risk Factors & More

Multiple System Atrophy (MSA) is a rare neurodegenerative disorder that significantly impacts an individual’s daily life. Let’s delve into the specifics of MSA and how it affects the body.

Definition of Multiple System Atrophy

  • MSA is one of the major progressive neurological disorders that have a primary effect on the autonomic nervous system of a person.
  • It is mainly characterized by a combination of symptoms such as tremors, stiffness, and other kinds of difficulties faced by a person with coordination and balance.
What is Multiple System Atrophy?

Subtypes of Multiple System Atrophy

  • MSA is ideally divided into two main subtypes: MSA-C (cerebellar) and MSA-P (parkinsonian).
  • MSA-C primarily shows cerebellar symptoms, affecting coordination and balance.
  • MSA-P exhibits symptoms similar to Parkinson’s disease, including tremors and muscle stiffness.

Causes and Risk Factors of Multiple System Atrophy

  • The exact cause of MSA is not well understood, but it is generally found to be associated with the accumulation of a protein called alpha-synuclein in the brain.
  • Age is a significant risk factor, with MSA usually diagnosed in people over 50.

Symptoms of Multiple System Atrophy

  • Autonomic symptoms usually include problems that are specific to blood pressure regulation, bladder control, and digestion.
  • Motor symptoms involve difficulty with movement, muscle rigidity, and tremors.
  • Cognitive impairment may occur in some cases, affecting memory and decision-making.

Diagnosis and Challenges:

  • Diagnosing MSA can be challenging due to the overlap of symptoms with other neurological disorders.
  • Neurological examinations, imaging studies, and autonomic function tests are commonly used for diagnosis.

Prognosis and Outlook:

  • MSA is a progressive disorder, and the prognosis varies from person to person.
  • Life expectancy after diagnosis is typically limited, and the disease can significantly impact daily activities.

Support and Resources:

  • Coping with MSA can be challenging, both for individuals diagnosed and their families.
  • Support groups, counseling, and specialized care services can provide valuable assistance.


By understanding the symptoms, it is important to get a brief about the diagnostic challenges and explore available management options, so that individuals affected by MSA can navigate their journey with greater awareness and support.

Dr. Navin Tiwari
Consulting Neurologist

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