Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a condition in which the body’s immune system has an abnormal reaction to the central nervous system (CNS, made up of the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves). The immune system attacks elements of the CNS, disrupting the transmission of nerve signals and producing the symptoms that characterise MS. The exact cause is unknown, but is thought to be triggered by a combination of environmental and genetic factors. 

MS can be mild, moderate or severe, and can show different patterns of symptoms over time.  Most people (85%) with the disease have the ‘relapsing remitting’ form, which involves clearly defined attacks of neurological symptoms followed by periods of partial or complete recovery.  Some people experience progressive MS where symptoms and disability worsen over time.  For many people with MS, as time goes on their symptoms don’t resolve completely, resulting in gradually worsening illness and disability.

Treatments for MS involve disease modifying drugs which slow the progression of the disease and reduce the frequency of the attacks. There is no cure for MS and the challenge lies in managing the disease as best possible to continue to live a normal life.  MS affects around 700000 people in Europe.

Sources: National MS Society and MS Society