oban.msc@btconnect.com

MS is a chromic neurological disorder, sometimes benign, frequently remitting, and also can be elusive, but much can be done to manage the symptoms. MS affects people from the age of 20 and 40. It is more common among women than men. More details are available at the MS Society.

Although the cause is unknown, evidence suggests that it could be the result of either • an auto immune attack by the body on its own myelin • Or the effects of a viral infection • Or, most likely, a combination of the two The immune system will recognise an alien body. In some conditions the immune system becomes confused and damages parts of the body in error. In MS the myelin sheath around the nerve cells is attacked as though it were a foreign threat, the nerves become demyelinated and may not function as they should.

There is almost certainly a genetic component, though MS is not hereditary in the conventional sense. If there is a family member who has MS there is a greater risk of another member developing the condition than families where no one has MS. If a parent has MS, the risk of their children is 15-20 times greater than that of the general population, though the risk is still relatively low. Research is still ongoing in this area.

The lesions, characteristic of MS, can occur anywhere within the central nervous system. The symptoms can be extremely diverse, present in many different combinations and with variable severity. No two people with MS are the alike.

Symptoms might be problems with walking, balance, fatigue, bladder and the bowel. Other symptoms can have problems with vision, stiffness or spasm, walking, numbness and pins and needles. These symptoms vary in severity and no two people have the same symptoms.

There are four types of MS.

Relapsing/ Remitting MS: People who are diagnosed with R/R MS will have periods when their symptoms flare up, which is a relapse, and then followed by periods of complete recovery, being the remission.

Secondary Progressive MS: Some people who have RR MS discover that as time passes the frequency of relapses decreases but disability increases. This can vary widely and some people find that the increase or progression of disability is very gradual, whilst for others it can occur more quickly.

Primary progressive MS: A small group of people with MS are diagnosed with a form in which disability increases from the outset, usually with the absence of distinct relapses. As this is a progressive form of MS it is known as primary progressive MS. Some people can have a slow progression of symptoms where as others can have a steady increase in disability.

Benign MS: People with mild attacks of MS separated with long spells with no symptoms are known to have benign MS. This condition affects a small percent of the population. This type of MS can only be diagnosed after a period of ten years or more when there has been a long term absence of symptoms.

Multiple Sclerosis, description of the disease