Multiple sclerosis, often known as MS, is an autoimmune condition that affects signals travelling down nerves in the central nervous system.
Autoimmune conditions are those that cause the body's immune system to attack parts of its own healthy body tissue. With multiple sclerosis, the body attacks a protein that surrounds nerves in the brain and spinal cord, called myelin, causing it to harden and scar. This means that the nerve struggles to send signals, and causes a variety of symptoms.
MS causes issues such as stiffness and uncontrolled movement of the muscles, known as spasms, balance and coordination problems, fatigue, and some loss of vision. Symptoms of MS can increase gradually, or can also be strong for some time before subsiding for a period of time before occurring again.
At present, there is not a cure for MS, but your consultant may prescribe various medicines as treatment to manage the condition. This may include treatments for relapses of symptoms, treatment for specific symptoms you may experience, and treatment to slow progression of the condition. You may require physiotherapy or injections to treat muscle problems. You may also require psychological and/or therapy to help with cognitive problems, such as memory loss.
If a person has frequent relapses then disease modifying drugs such as interferon can be used to reduce the number of attacks.