Inside Jamie-Lynn Sigler's Experience With MS

Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable disease that can be confusing and sometimes misunderstood, as it affects everyone differently. For actress Jamie-Lynn Sigler, she's been living with the illness since she was 20 years old, and has learned how to manage it, be open about it, and even embrace it.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) affects the body's central nervous system (via Johns Hopkins Medicine). The immune system attacks the nerves and their protective casings in the brain and spinal cord, causing inflammation and nerve damage. This disrupts communication from the brain to the rest of the body, leading to fatigue, numbness, tingling, blurred vision, walking unsteadily, and weakness, among other symptoms. MS affects everyone differently though, so for some, the symptoms may be mild, and for others, they may lose their ability to do things like walk, write, and speak.

There are four main courses of MS, per Johns Hopkins Medicine. Relapse-remitting MS is the type that affects 90% of patients at the time of diagnosis, with symptoms lasting for days or weeks and then disappearing with treatment for weeks or even years. If symptoms accumulate and get worse with no remission, it becomes secondary progressive MS, where symptoms may be stable at times, but overall the disease is worsening. When from the beginning, patients experience a gradual decline with barely any relapses, they have primary progressive MS, which affects just 10-15% of patients. Lastly, there's benign MS, which is mild disease after having MS for at least 15 years.

How Jamie-Lynn Sigler has learned to live with her diagnosis

"The Sopranos" actress Jamie-Lynn Sigler opened up about her own diagnosis with MS in 2016 (via Glamour). After being diagnosed at the age of 20 and keeping it a secret for 15 years, she finally decided to speak publicly about her disease. She saw a hypnotherapist who told her that her secret was keeping her sick, which gave her the confidence to embrace her health journey and speak up about her experience.

Now 40 years old, Ms. Sigler has been an unofficial spokesperson for the condition. She has found some relief by taking Tecfidera, an oral drug that can reduce relapses (via Glamour). She manages her symptoms well, but said that she sometimes experiences more stiffness and pain than usual. She can't run anymore, and said that MS affects her not only physically but emotionally as well. But she said there have been upsides to her diagnosis, as well.

"It's made me more present," she told Glamour. "I used to always be so worried about the future. Always, always, always. I never appreciated the moment, and I definitely do that a whole lot more. I'm definitely grateful for that."