Multiple Sclerosis (“MS”) is a neuro-demyelinating disease of the central nervous system in which the body’s immune system attacks the protective sheath (myelin) that covers the nerve fibers. Destruction of myelin leads to communication problems with the affected area(s) of the brain or spinal cord and the rest of the body. The disease can eventually cause deterioration in the nerves themselves and lead to permanent damage.
The symptoms of multiple sclerosis vary widely depending on the nerve fibers that are affected. The most common symptoms typically involve numbness, tingling and weakness in one or more limbs, impaired motor function, sensory symptoms, visual symptoms, eye movement disorders, tremor, unsteady gait, slurred speech, fatigue, dizziness, bowel and bladder problems and cognitive impairment. These symptoms can occur suddenly, intermittently, or gradually over time, and improve partially or completely. If left untreated, symptoms generally worsen over time.
MS is an autoimmune disorder and as with many autoimmune disorders, its cause is unknown. A combination of genetic and environmental factors has been implicated in the onset of the disorder and may explain why some develop MS while others do not.
While there is no cure for MS, a number of treatment options are available that focus on speeding recovery from exacerbation of symptoms, slowing the progression of the disease and managing symptoms.