Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a disease of the central nervous system - it may affect the brain, spinal cord and/or optic nerve.
The term multiple sclerosis relates to the numerous scars or lesions which affect the nerve fibres’ protective layer; a protein called myelin. This damage disrupts the way in which messages, or nerve impulses, are carried to and from the brain, and so can interfere with a range of the body’s functions.
Up to 85 per cent of people diagnosed have relapsing MS, where the symptoms appear and then fade away partially or completely. This could develop into secondary progressive MS if there is a sustained build-up of disability completely independent of relapses.
A third type of MS is known as Primary Progressive MS (PPMS) where symptoms gradually get worse over a period of time, rather than appearing as sudden attacks. Once diagnosed, MS cannot be cured but medication can generally manage the symptoms.