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About MS

About MS

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a condition of the central nervous system.

MS affects nerves in the spinal cord and brain.

In MS, myelin (the coating around nerve fibres) is damaged, which disrupts the transfer of the nerve signals, causing a range of symptoms including problems with balance, movement and vision.

More than 100,000 people in the UK have MS. Symptoms can usually start in your 20s and 30s and it affects almost three times as many women as men.

In most cases, symptoms can come and go for several years. After time, some symptoms can become permanent and can cause disability.

Once diagnosed, MS stays with you for life, but treatments and specialists can help you to manage the condition and its symptoms.

Various therapies and medicines can ease symptoms and reduce the number of flare-ups. We don't know the cause and we haven't yet found a cure, but research is progressing fast. 

What happens in MS?

To understand what happens in MS, it's useful to understand how the central nervous system works.

The Myelin Sheath protects the nerve fibres in the central nervous system, this helps messages travel easily and quickly around the body.

Multipel Sclerosis is an auto-immune disorder. The immune system, which normally helps to fight off infections, mistakes myelin for a foreign body and attacks it. This damages the myelin, leaving scars known as lesions or plaques.

This damage disrupts messages travelling along nerve fibres – they can slow down, become distorted, or not get through at all.

Sometimes the actual nerve fibres can be damaged. It is this nerve damage that causes the increase in disability that can occur over time.

MS symptoms

As the central nervous system links everything your body does, many different types of symptoms can appear in MS.

The specific symptoms that appear depend upon which part of your central nervous system is affected and the job of the damaged nerve.