What is multiple sclerosis?

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Multiple sclerosis is a disease involving the central nervous system.  If a person is diagnosed to have MS or multiple sclerosis, he/she will have impaired brain function including problems associated with immune system deficiency, muscle weakness and/or paralysis, and talking difficulty among others.  MS is also classified as an auto-immune disorder and this simply means that a person’s own body is attacking its own cells in the brain and spinal cord and therefore causing the classic neurologic symptoms of this disease.

The main affected part of the central nervous system is the myelin sheath that covers the cells in the brain and spinal cord.  When there is multiple sclerosis, scarring of this protective sheath will affect the conduction of nerve impulses.  When the impulse cannot travel smoothly through from the brain or spinal cord to other parts of the body for example, the symptoms of multiple sclerosis will become apparent.  Most commonly affected are the muscles involved in talking and walking.  With the myelin sheath scarred, the neurological signal or command from the central nervous system will not reach those of the muscles in the extremities for example.

Being an auto-immune disorder, there is no definite cause for multiple sclerosis.  Aside from difficulty in talking and walking, other symptoms include poor coordination and balance, vision problems, and pain in the eyes.  Progressive types of MS will also result to severe stiffness in muscles, urinary incontinence, and cognition problems.  In progressive MS, symptoms will also become worse over time.  Most patients with multiple sclerosis will have the relapsing-remitting type of MS.  In this type of MS, the symptoms will undergo a cycle of relapse and remissions with a great chance of full or almost-full recovery.  In terms of treatment, the aim of any medical team is to delay the progression of the disease because multiple sclerosis has no definite treatment.

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