Jack Osbourne Diagnosed With Multiple Sclerosis

With the birth of his daughter, Pearl Clementine, just two weeks earlier, Jack Osbourne was flying high.

But then, the 26-year-old reality show personality, son of Black Sabbath rocker Ozzy Osbourne and America’s Got Talent judge Sharon Osbourne, was dealt a devastating blow- he had multiple sclerosis!

Jack had experienced some tingling in his extremities and dismissed it as nothing to worry about. But when he woke up unable to see out of his right eye, he became alarmed.

Doctors found that he had lost 60% of the vision in that eye, and after extensive testing was given the diagnosis of MS.

Jack told the British magazine, HELLO!:

The timing was so bad. I’d just had a baby, work was going great… I kept thinking: ‘Why now?’

Although the news is devastating, Osbourne is publicizing his diagnosis to increase awareness of the disease. People magazine will release an interview with Jack and Sharon Osbourne later this week.

While I was waiting for the final results, I got really, really angry. Then I got really sad for about two days, and after that I realised, being angry and upset is not going to do anything at this point – if anything it’s only going to make it worse.
‘Adapt and overcome’ is my new motto.’

Jack is not alone in his struggle. A number of celebrities have been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, including Annette Funicello, Captain BeefheartMonteil Williams, and Ann Romney.

What is Multiple Sclerosis?

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease that affects the central nervous system. It is thought to be an autoimmune disease.

The fatty substance (myelin) that surrounds and protects the nerve fibers in the central nervous system is attacked by a patient’s own immune system damaging them and forming scar tissue (sclerosis).

This can happen in multiple locations in the brain or along the spinal cord, hence the name multiple sclerosis.

This causes nerve impulses traveling anywhere to or from the brain and spinal cord to be disrupted, resulting in a person displaying symptoms ranging from fatigue, numbness, tingling, blurred vision to lack of coordination and paralysis.

Since these symptoms are not specific to MS, and may wax and wane over time in any patient, it is often difficult to make the diagnosis.

What are the Symptoms of MS?

Most people experience their first symptoms of MS between the ages of 20 and 40.

The initial symptom of MS is often blurred or double vision, red-green color distortion, or even blindness in one eye.

Most MS patients experience muscle weakness in their extremities and difficulty with coordination and balance.  These symptoms may be severe enough to impair walking or even standing.

In the worst cases, MS can produce partial or complete paralysis.

Most people with MS also exhibit paresthesias- temporary abnormal sensory feelings such as numbness, prickling, or “pins and needles” sensations.  Some may also experience pain.

Speech impediments, tremors, and dizziness are other frequent complaints.

Occasionally, people with MS have hearing loss.

Approximately half of all people with MS experience cognitive impairments such as difficulties with concentration, attention, memory, and poor judgment, but such symptoms are usually mild and are frequently overlooked.  Depression is another common feature of MS.

The most common course of the disease is the relapsing-remitting subtype, which is characterized by unpredictable attacks (relapses) followed by periods of relative remission with no new signs of disease activity.

After some years, many of the people who have this subtype begin to experience neurological decline without acute relapses. When this happens it is called secondary progressive multiple sclerosis.

How is MS treated?

There is currently no cure for multiple sclerosis, however there are currently eight disease-modifying medications approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in relapsing forms of MS.

Disease modifying medications have been shown to:

  • Reduce the frequency and severity of clinical attacks (also called relapses or exacerbations)
  • Reduce the accumulation of lesions(damaged or active disease areas) within the brain and spinal cord
  • Appear to slow down the accumulation of disability

As many of these medications may have side-effects associated with them, the decision to use them must be made between a patient and their physician.

You can learn more specifics about these drugs in an excellent brochure by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society by clicking here.

For more information about MS, click here to go to the Resounding Health Casebook on Multiple Sclerosis.

Michele R. Berman, M.D. was Clinical Director of The Pediatric Center, a private practice on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. from 1988-2000, and was named Outstanding Washington Physician by Washingtonian Magazine in 1999. She was a medical internet pioneer having established one of the first medical practice websites in 1997. Dr. Berman also authored a monthly column for Washington Parent Magazine.

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