Multiple Sclerosis, often abbreviated simply as MS, is the most common, non traumatic disease of the central nervous system (CNS), which is composed of the brain and spinal cord. Another medical name for the condition is Encephalomyelitis disseminate. In other words MS is a chronic inflammatory demyelinating disease of the central nervous system.
MS is an auto-immune disease, which is a process where the body's immune system attacks and destroys myelin, the protective coating or sheaths that covers nerve fibres. Millions of nerve fibres can be affected and the scars that form after the inflammation stops are known as sclerosis, sometimes referred to as plaques or lesions. Since they occur randomly in multiple places throughout the central nervous system, they give MS its name: Multiple Sclerosis literally means many scars. MS is a chronic condition that usually follows a course of intermittent attacks. As a consequence, conduction of information within the CNS is compromised affecting and impairing several neurological functions.
The symptoms are quite variable and depend upon the location of plaques within the CNS. The most common neurological symptoms are motor dysfunctions (limb weakness, spasticity), visual disturbances (loss of sight), cognitive impairment, incoordination of movements, constant fatigue, sexual dysfunction and bladder/bowel problems.
MS mainly starts in young adulthood and symptoms can vary greatly from one person to another. The exact cause of the disease remains uncertain and there are no known measures to prevent the onset of the disease. Whilst no cure is currently available for Multiple Sclerosis, extensive research is continuing throughout the world. Drug-related solutions increasingly counter the effects of the disease, giving people with MS a better quality of life.Last Updated 24-09-2010