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Stats & Facts - What is MS?

by Sharon Gayle August 27, 2012

What is MS?

Multiple sclerosis (or MS) is a chronic, often disabling that attacks...

 

...the central nervous system (CNS), which is made up of the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves. Symptoms may be mild, such as numbness in the limbs, or severe, such as paralysis or loss of vision. Read More. The progress, severity, and specific symptoms of MS are unpredictable and vary from one person to another. Today, new treatments and advances in research are giving new hope to people affected by the disease.


Overview of the Central Nervous System

 

MS is Thought to be an Autoimmune Disease

The body’s own defense system attacks myelin, the fatty substance that surrounds and protects the nerve fibers in the central nervous system. The nerve fibers themselves can also be damaged. The damaged myelin forms scar tissue (sclerosis), which gives the disease its name. When any part of the myelin sheath or nerve fiber is damaged or destroyed, nerve impulses traveling to and from the brain and spinal cord are distorted or interrupted, producing the variety of symptoms that can occur.

Most people with MS learn to cope with the disease and continue to lead satisfying, productive lives.

The Four Courses of MS

People with MS can typically experience one of four disease courses, each of which might be mild, moderate, or severe.

Relapsing-Remitting MS
People with this type of MS experience clearly defined attacks of worsening neurologic function. These attacks—which are called relapses, flare-ups, or exacerbations —are followed by partial or complete recovery periods (remissions), during which no disease progression occurs. Approximately 85% of people are initially diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS.

Primary-Progressive MS
This disease course is characterized by slowly worsening neurologic function from the beginning—with no distinct relapses or remissions. The rate of progression may vary over time, with occasional plateaus and temporary minor improvements. Approximately 10% of people are diagnosed with primary-progressive MS.

Secondary-Progressive MS
Following an initial period of relapsing-remitting MS, many people develop a secondary-progressive disease course in which the disease worsens more steadily, with or without occasional flare-ups, minor recoveries (remissions), or plateaus. Before the disease-modifying medications became available, approximately 50% of people with relapsing-remitting MS developed this form of the disease within 10 years. Long-term data are not yet available to determine if treatment significantly delays this transition.

Progressive-Relapsing MS
In this relatively rare course of MS (5%), people experience steadily worsening disease from the beginning, but with clear attacks of worsening neurologic function along the way. They may or may not experience some recovery following these relapses, but the disease continues to progress without remissions.

Since no two people have exactly the same experience of MS, the disease course may look very different from one person to another. And, it may not always be clear to the physician—at least right away—which course a person is experiencing.

 

Who, Why, How? Searching for the Cause of MS

Part One of Two: 12 minutes


This video features part one of a series that discusses research efforts looking into the causes
of multiple sclerosis.

Part Two of Two: 13 minutes


This video features part two of a series that discusses research efforts looking into the causes
of multiple sclerosis.

For more important information about MS, visit the NMSC website.

 

Courtesy: National MS Society - www.nationalmssociety.org

Tags:

General | Health

Comments

10/9/2012 7:25:30 PM #

Hello Sharon,

Out of curiosity, is there a particular reason why you blogged about MS? Someone very dear to me was diagnosed with MS last year.

Anthony United States

6/10/2013 6:56:59 PM #

Good Day Anthony.

I blogged about MS. because I believe that there is so much that people do not know, and/or understand about the disease. Research has shown that because of a lack of understanding regarding MS. many lack empathy to those that have been diagnosed and going through the processes of treatment.

I also have two (2) clients with MS. I work with them weekly and have gotten to know them very well. They are wonderful people. I felt compelled to do my part in informing my readers about MS. so that they might be prepared should their lives be some how impacted by this all too often debilitating disease. ~SG.

Sharon Gayle / GayleFORCE United States