Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disorder of the brain and spinal cord. This potentially deliberating disease attacks the protective sheath (myelin) that covers the nerves causing problems by interfering with the communication between the brain, spinal cord and other areas of the body. It can cause various symptoms that come and go at first for several years. Though over time, some symptoms can become permanent and can cause disability. There is no cure for MS, however, various drugs and therapies may reduce the number of flare-ups and can help to ease symptoms and extent of disability.
There are many thousands of nerve fibers that convey electrical impulses among different parts of the brain and spinal cord. Each nerve fiber is surrounded by a protective sheath substance known as myelin. This myelin sheath insulates much like the covering on an electrical wire and is necessary for the electrical impulse to travel properly along the nerve fiber. These nerves fibers travel from the brain and spinal cord taking messages to and from the muscles, skin, body organs and tissues.
MS is believed to be an autoimmune disease because when the disease is in an active state, parts of the immune system, specifically the T cells, attack the myelin sheath that surrounds the nerve fibers in the brain and spinal cord causing inflammation. Normally the immune system would attack bacteria and viruses and so forth, but instead it attacks the parts of the body. There is no known cause for the immune system to act this way but it is speculated the result to be a viral or an environmental factor to be triggers, especially those with a certain genetic makeup.
When there is inflammation surrounding the myelin sheath, it stops the nerve fibers from working properly. Generally when this happens, symptoms of MS develop. However, as the inflammation clears, the myelin sheath may heal and repair allowing the nerve fibers to work properly again. Unfortunately overtime, with repeated bouts of inflammation, scarring occurs (sclerosis) leaving permanent damage to the nerve fibers. This scarring can develop in multiple areas of the brain and spinal cord. Thus getting its name, Multiple Sclerosis.
There are four types of patterns of MS. The most common is Relapsing-remitting form affect 9 out of 10 people with MS. When a bout of symptoms occurs, they commonly last approximately 2-6 weeks, but for some they last months, and then go away or ease and then have further relapses over time. The type, number and frequency of symptoms that occur during a relapse may vary from person to person, depending on where myelin damage occurs. Eventually, symptoms usually worsen over time and become permanent, and result in secondary progressive MS.
Secondary progressive form of MS is the steady worsening of symptoms with or without relapses. This usually occurs about 10-15 years of the onset of MS. People with this type of MS experience fewer relapses as their disability worsens resulting in their...