Multiple System Atrophy

(MSA; Sporadic Olivopontocerebellar Atrophy; Shy-Drager Syndrome; Parkinson’s Plus Syndrome; Multi-system Degeneration; Multi-system Atrophy; Idiopathic Autonomic Failure; Idiopathic Orthostatic Hypotension;)


Multiple system atrophy (MSA) is a disorder of the nervous system.MSA is sometimes called a Parkinson’s plus syndrome because many of the symptoms are similar. There are different types MSA based on symptoms. Once symptoms develop, the average life expectancy is 10 years or less.


The cause of MSA is unknown. Genetic factors may play a role in some families. The symptoms are caused by degeneration of nerves throughout the brain and spinal cord. These nerves control automatic functions like balance and muscle coordination. The damage to the nerve may be caused by a buildup of a specific protein, but this is not a confirmed cause.
Nervous System
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Risk Factors

MSA tends to appear after 60 years of age.


Symptoms of MSA can vary greatly. Initial symptoms are similar to those of Parkinson's disease. These initial symptoms may also be determined by the type of MSA:
  • Type MSA-A is associated with orthostatic hypotension. This is a problem managing blood pressure when moving from sitting to standing. It can lead to lightheadedness or fainting.
  • Type MSA-P is associated with symptoms similar to initial Parkinson's symptoms such as:
    • Slow, stiff movements
    • Tremors
    • Clumsiness—loss of balance and coordination
    • Shuffling
  • Type MSA-C is associated with:
    • Difficulty swallowing
    • Problems speaking and hoarseness
    • Difficulty coordinating muscle movement
As the disease progresses, symptoms will cross over types and become more severe. Many will develop muscle coordination problems and need walking aids. Other problems that may exist across type include:
  • Problems with bladder control
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Muscle tightening around a joint that prevents free movement
  • Problems with posture, such as leaning to one side and forward head bend
  • Inappropriate laughing or crying
  • Excess yawning
  • Vision problems
  • Changes in writing

leave comments
Did you like this? Share with your family and friends.
Related Topics:
Current Research From Top Journals

Music May Improve Sleep Quality in Adults with Insomnia
October 2015

Insomnia can make your days miserable and a cure can be hard to find. There are some medications but there is some worry with side effects and the potential for addiction. Music is side effect free and according to this study may help you find sleep.

dot separator
previous editions

CPAP May Help Older Adults with Obstructive Sleep Apnea
September 2015

Water Before Meals May Promote Weight Loss
August 2015

Fecal Transplants Induce Ulcerative Colitis Remission
July 2015

dashed separator


Our Free Newsletter
click here to see all of our uplifting newsletters »