Unpredictable. Life-changing. Scary. Multiple sclerosis is lots of things — But the physiological signs of MS offer a definition of the disease.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease that affects the central nervous system (CNS) of the body, making it difficult for the nervous system to communicate appropriately. The central nervous system is made up of 3 parts:
- the spinal cord;
- the brain; and
- the optic nerves
Multiple sclerosis is a potentially disabling disease in which the immune system attacks the protective layer around nerve fibers in the brain, known as ‘myelin.’ Once the myelin is damaged it causes lesions, scar tissue, and inflammation. As a result of the damage, it is harder for the brain to send signals to the body, causing the symptoms of the disease.
Because of this damage to the myelin, multiple sclerosis is known as a demyelinating disease. While MS is the most common example of this type of disease, there are others, including Devic’s disease, which also impact the CNS.