Multiple System Atrophy (MSA)

MSA is a complex and challenging condition. Parkinson’s SA provides information and support for people with MSA and their families, friends and carers.

Multiple System Atrophy (MSA) is a rare neurological condition. It is caused by a gradual loss of nerve cells and shrinkage of the brain cells in the basal ganglia, cerebellum and brain stem - all of which control movement, balance and the automatic functions of the body (such as the bladder). MSA is a progressive condition with no known cure at present. However, treatments and therapies are available to help manage symptoms of MSA. Research into MSA is currently underway giving some hope for the future, particularly in relation to more effective management of symptoms.

Symptoms vary from person to person and often resemble Parkinson’s disease, for example stiff muscles and balance problems along with constipation, bladder problems, sleep disturbance and low blood pressure.

MSA is difficult to diagnose. It is common for people with early symptoms of MSA to be misdiagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. A limited response to Parkinson’s medications is an indicator of the need to review a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease. Because MSA is rare, many doctors are unaware of the condition. A neurologist visit is essential as they are more likely to be up-to-date with the latest advances in treatment and management.