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Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a potentially disabling disease of the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system). In MS, the immune system attacks the protective sheath (myelin) that covers nerve fibers and causes communication problems between your brain and the rest of your body. Eventually, the disease can cause the nerves themselves to deteriorate or become permanently damaged.

Signs and symptoms of MS vary widely and depend on the amount of nerve damage and which nerves are affected. Some people with severe MS may lose the ability to walk independently or at all, while others may experience long periods of remission without any new symptoms.

There's no cure for multiple sclerosis. However, treatments can help speed recovery from attacks, modify the course of the disease and manage symptoms.

Find out why Mayo Clinic is the best place for your care.


   MS-related nervous system damage

   Myelin damage and the nervous system

Multiple sclerosis signs and symptoms may differ greatly from person to person and over the course of the disease depending on the location of affected nerve fibers. They may include:

   Numbness or weakness in one or more limbs that typically occurs on one side of your body at a time, or the legs and trunk

   Partial or complete loss of vision, usually in one eye at a time, often with pain during eye movement

   Prolonged double vision

   Tingling or pain in parts of your body

   Electric-shock sensations that occur with certain neck movements, especially bending the neck forward (Lhermitte sign)

   Tremor, lack of coordination or unsteady gait

   Slurred speech



   Problems with bowel and bladder function

When to see a doctor

See a doctor if you experience any of the above symptoms for unknown reasons.

Disease course

Most people with MS have a relapsing-remitting disease course. They experience periods of new symptoms or relapses that develop over days or weeks and usually improve partially or completely. These relapses are followed by quiet periods of disease remission that can last months or even years.

Small increases in body temperature can temporarily worsen signs and symptoms of MS, but these aren't considered disease relapses.

About 60 to 70 percent of people with relapsing-remitting MS eventually develop a steady progression of symptoms, with or without periods of remission, known as secondary-progressive MS.

The worsening of symptoms usually includes problems with mobility and gait. The rate of disease progression varies greatly among people with secondary-progressive MS.

Some people with MS experience a gradual onset and steady progression of signs and symptoms without any relapses. This is known as primary-progressive MS.

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The cause of multiple sclerosis is unknown. It's considered an autoimmune disease in which the body's immune system attacks its own tissues. In the case of MS, this immune system malfunction destroys myelin (the fatty substance that coats and protects nerve fibers in the brain and spinal cord).

Myelin can be compared to the insulation coating on electrical wires. When the protective myelin is damaged and nerve fiber is exposed, the messages that travel along that nerve may be slowed or blocked. The nerve may also become damaged itself.

It isn't clear why MS develops in some people and not others. A combination of genetics and environmental factors appears to be responsible.

Risk factors

These factors may increase your risk of developing multiple sclerosis:

   Age. MS can occur at any age, but most commonly affects people between the ages of 15 and 60.

   Sex. Women are about twice as likely as men are to develop MS.

   Family history. If one of your parents or siblings has had MS, you are at higher risk of developing the disease.

   Certain infections. A variety of viruses have been linked to MS, including Epstein-Barr, the virus that causes infectious mononucleosis.

   Race. White people, particularly those of Northern European descent, are at highest risk of developing MS. People of Asian, African or Native American descent have the lowest risk.

   Climate. MS is far more common in countries with temperate climates, including Canada, the northern United States, New Zealand, southeastern Australia and Europe.

   Certain autoimmune diseases. You have a slightly higher risk of developing MS if you have thyroid disease, type 1 diabetes or inflammatory bowel disease.

   Smoking. Smokers who experience an initial event of symptoms that may signal MS are more likely than nonsmokers to develop a second event that confirms relapsing-remitting MS.


People with multiple sclerosis also may develop:

   Muscle stiffness or spasms

   Paralysis, typically in the legs

   Problems with bladder, bowel or sexual function

   Mental changes, such as forgetfulness or mood swings



By Mayo Clinic Staff

Multiple sclerosis care at Mayo Clinic

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Diagnosis & treatment

Aug. 04, 2017


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   Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease that causes demyelination (disruption of the myelin that insulates and protects nerve cells) of spinal nerve and brain cells.

   Although the exact case is unknown, it's considered an autoimmune disease.

   Risk factors for the disease include being between 15-60 years of age; women have about two to three times the risk for multiple sclerosis than men.

   Rarely, MS in children and teens (pediatric MS) get MS.

   Symptoms, causes, and treatments for MS in children and teens are similar to those for adults, except children and teens may also have seizures and/or mental status changes.

   Multiple sclerosis symptoms and signs depend on where the nerves are demyelinated and may include:

       Visual changes including double vision or loss of vision


       Tingling or weakness (weakness may range from mild to severe)


       Vertigo or dizziness

       Erectile dysfunction (ED, impotence)

       Pregnancy problems

       Incontinence (or conversely, urinary retention)

       Muscle spasticity

       Incoordination of muscles


       Painful involuntary muscle contractions

       Slurred speech


   There are four types of MS:

       Relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS),

       Secondary-progressive multiple sclerosis (SPMS), the most common type

       Primary-progressive multiple sclerosis (SPMS)

       Progressive-relapsing multiple sclerosis (PRMS)

   There is no one test to diagnose MS. Doctors and other health care professionals diagnose the disease by a patient's history, physical exam, and tests such as MRI, lumbar puncture, and evoked potential testing (speed of nerve impulses); other tests may be done to rule out other diseases that may cause similar symptoms.

   Treatment options include:

       IV steroids

       interferon injections (Rebif)

       glatiramer acetate (Copaxone)

       dimethyl fumarate (Tecfidera

       Many others, depending on the patient's symptoms.

   Most people with MS have a normal life expectancy. Those that don't get treatment may develop mobility dysfunction while those with the severe progressive forms may develop complications like pneumonia.

   Currently, there's nothing you can do to prevent getting MS.

   Research is ongoing into developing new medications, immune system modifications, and other ways to identify potential causes of MS.

Quick GuideMultiple Sclerosis (MS) Symptoms and Treatment

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Symptoms and Treatment

Multiple Sclerosis MS picture

Early Symptoms and Signs of Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

Multiple sclerosis or MS is a disease that attacks nerve tissue in the brain and spinal cord, which damages and destroys it. Examples of early symptoms and signs of multiple sclerosis are

   bowel problems like constipation or stool leakage

   eye problems like double vision or eye discomfort

   muscle problems like difficulty walking or problems with coordination

   twitching, tingling, numbness and pain in certain areas of the body

   sexual problems in men and women...

Read more about multiple sclerosis symptoms and treatment »

What is the definition of multiple sclerosis? What does MS look like (pictures)?

Multiple sclerosis is a disease that involves an immune-mediated process that results in an abnormal response in the body's immune system that damages central nervous system (CNS) tissues in which the immune system attacks myelin, the substance that surrounds and insulate nerves fibers causing demyelination that leads to nerve damage. Because the exact antigen or target of the immune – mediated attack is not known, many experts prefer to label multiple sclerosis as "immune-mediated instead of an "autoimmune disease."

What is multiple sclerosis (MS)?


Multiple sclerosis is a disease that causes demyelination of the brain and spinal cord nerve cells. When this occurs, axons (the parts of the nerve cells that conduct impulses to other cells), don't work as well. Myelin acts like insulation on electrical wires. As more areas or nerves are affected by this loss of myelin, patients develop symptoms because the ability of axons to conduct impulses is diminished or lost. The specific symptom that someone experiences is related to the area that has been affected. As demyelination takes place, areas of inflammation and subsequent injury can be identified; these areas of injury are called lesions or plaques and are readily apparent on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies.

What causes multiple sclerosis?

   Readers Comments 6

   Share Your Story

While multiple sclerosis is considered an autoimmune disorder, the exact cause hasn't yet been found. There are many theories regarding the reason that people develop MS. These theories range from vitamin D deficiency to a viral infection. Even consuming too much salt is being looked at as possible causes. However, none of these theories has been proven, and the cause of MS remains unknown. It's not contagious, and can't be passed from person to person.

Can children and teenagers develop multiple sclerosis (pediatric MS)?

Children and teenagers can have MS (pediatric MS). It is estimated that about 8,000 to 10,000 children and teens up to 18 years old have been diagnosed with pediatric MS. Moreover, an additional 10,000 to 15,000 children and teens have had at least one symptom of the disease.

Almost all children diagnosed with pediatric MS have the relapsing-remitting MS type; however, additional symptoms often not experienced in adults with MS may include seizures and mental status changes like lethargy.

Children and teens with multiple sclerosis are treated with the same therapies as adults, but they are considered “off label” for treating children, (not an FDA approved use for the drug, but it is/may be effective for some people with the condition). Small studies suggest the IV drug natalizumab (Tysabri) is safe to use in children with MS who have not responded to other treatments. Discuss all of your child’s MS treatments or home therapies with his or her health-care team.

A brain MRI showing the optic nerve, a man with numbness and tingling in his hand, a woman experiencing dizziness, and a woman dealing with incontinence.

What are the early symptoms and signs of multiple sclerosis?


Genetic factors don't seem to play a large role in the disease. Although people who have a first-degree relative with MS have a slightly higher risk of developing it themselves, this risk is felt to be modest.


People who live in northern latitudes (especially Northern European countries) were previously identified as having a higher incidence of the MS. However, over the last 30 years, more cases of MS are now being diagnosed in more temperate regions such as Latin America. Moreover, living in an area until approximately age 15 seems to give someone the relative risk of developing MS for that area. People younger than 15 who move assume the risk of the new location.


Lifestyle factors are not risk factors for developing MS, for example, diet, exercise, tobacco use, unlike conditions in which these risk factors are very important, such as stroke, heart disease, or diabetes.

What are the four types of multiple sclerosis?


   Readers Comments 6

   Share Your Story


There are four types of multiple sclerosis.

  1. Relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS)


Relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) is the most common form of MS.


People with this form of the disease develop symptoms that respond to treatment and then resolve. The development of symptoms is often referred to as an exacerbation of the disease. Episodes of remission may last for weeks to years.

  1. Secondary-progressive multiple sclerosis (SPMS)


Secondary-progressive multiple sclerosis (SPMS) is diagnosed when the problems caused by an exacerbation don't fully resolve during a remission. This often occurs in patients who were initially diagnosed with RRMS. Over time, patients are identified with progressive debility.

  1. Primary-progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS)


Primary-progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS) progresses over time, without episodes of remission or improvement of symptoms.

  1. Progressive-relapsing multiple sclerosis (PRMS)


Progressive-relapsing multiple sclerosis (PRMS) is identified when patients experience escalating symptoms over time, as well as intermittent episodes of remission.

A group of doctors consulting on multiple sclerosis treatment for a patient.

What exams and tests diagnose MS?

Patient history important because many people with multiple sclerosis have experienced various symptoms, which were ignored or attributed to other events or illnesses. If a person recalls no prior symptoms, the remaining medical history is needed to exclude other conditions that might mimic multiple sclerosis.

Once the history is obtained, a complete physical examination is required. Doctors look for signs of injury to the central nervous system (either the brain or spinal cord); findings on the examination can help a doctor determine which area of the central nervous system (CNS) is involved.

Imaging studies help to confirm a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. The most common test done is a magnetic resonance image, or MRI. CT scans, while helpful in finding some brain injuries, are unable to reveal the changes associated with multiple sclerosis with as much detail as an MRI. MRIs can be used to image the brain and the spinal cord.

A spinal tap, or lumbar puncture, is done to collect a small amount of cerebrospinal fluid. Testing can be done on this fluid to confirm the presence of protein, inflammatory markers, and other substances. With the routine use of MRI, performing a spinal tap is not considered mandatory, unless there are questionable findings on the MRI or other questions to answer.

Evoked potential testing (visual evoked potentials, brainstem auditory evoked potentials, and somatosensory evoked potentials) can show slowed response times in the optic nerve, the auditory nerve, the spinal cord, or the brainstem. While helpful, these tests are not specific for changes seen in multiple sclerosis.

When multiple sclerosis is suspected, blood work and testing to exclude other conditions, such as Lyme disease, vasculitis, lupus, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and processes which lead to multiple strokes, are often done as well.

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A nurse gives a patient IV treatment for multiple sclerosis.

What are the treatment guidelines and options for multiple sclerosis?

Many factors go into consideration for the treatment of a patient who has multiple sclerosis. During an acute exacerbation, steroids given through an IV are commonly prescribed, and often help patients recover more rapidly. If a patient cannot receive steroids, plasma exchange can be used.

Steroids given through an IV are commonly used to treat acute exacerbation of the disease, and often help people recover more quickly. If an individual cannot receive steroids, plasma exchange can be used.

Once a diagnosis has been confirmed, disease-modifying therapy is often recommended. This therapy may decrease the number of exacerbations that a patient experiences or decrease the severity of an exacerbation. In addition, many of these therapies have been shown to decrease the potential for developing long-term disability.

Multiple sclerosis medications

Interferon therapies

Interferon therapies (Avonex, Betaseron, Extavia, Rebif, Plegridy) must be given by an injection. The frequency of injections ranges from every other day to every other week. Some patients develop flu-like symptoms or nodules under the skin following each injection; other patients may develop severe depression.

glatiramer acetate (Copaxone)

Glatiramer acetate (Copaxone) works along a different path than the interferons, but is still thought to modify the immune system and has been shown to reduce relapses. Other oral medications have been approved to treat multiple sclerosis are fingolimod (Gilenya) and teriflunomide (Aubagio).

Although these medications are dosed orally, there is a risk of significant side effects:

   including heart disease (fingolimod), or

   severe liver injury (teriflunomide).

Another oral agent, dimethyl fumarate (Tecfidera), may function by preventing immune cells from attacking cells located in the central nervous system, and may have anti-inflammatory properties.

Dalfampridine (Ampyra) has been approved to help with walking problems caused by multiple sclerosis. The specific way in which this medication works is unknown. There is a risk that this medication may cause seizures, even in patients without a history of seizure or epilepsy. As such, the use of this medication needs to be monitored carefully.

natalizumab (Tysabri)

Natalizumab (Tysabri) is a monoclonal antibody, and has been approved for patients who have relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. Because of significant side effects, including the risk of severe brain infection, it is typically used for patients who have failed to respond to one of the interferon products or who have been diagnosed with very active disease.

alemtuzumab (Lemtrada)

Alemtuzumab (Lemtrada) can also decrease the relapse rate in relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. However, because of the risk of serious side effects, it is currently limited to use in patients who have failed other agents.

mitoxantrone (Novantrone)

Mitoxantrone (Novantrone) is a chemotherapy agent for leukemia or prostate cancer, which has been shown to be of benefit in treating secondary-progressive multiple sclerosis, progressive-relapsing multiple sclerosis, and advanced relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis.

Of note, mitoxantrone and Betaseron are the only medications identified to help patients with relapsing-primary multiple sclerosis.

A doctor explains medication treatment to a patient with multiple sclerosis.

What are the treatments for MS symptoms?

In addition to treating MS itself, there are approved medications that can treat many symptoms, for example:



   Memory loss

   Urinary frequency


   Erectile dysfunction (ED or impotence)

It is important for patients to have an ongoing dialogue with his or her doctor and other medical health care professionals to describe any residual difficulty or symptoms following an exacerbation so that these symptoms can be addressed and treated.

Experimental therapies for multiple sclerosis

Experimental therapies being explored to treat or possibly cure multiple sclerosis include stem cell transplantation. Preliminary results from one study, which followed patients for 5 years suggested a decreased relapse rate and improvement in disability. While promising, these results need to be evaluated carefully before this treatment is approved.

In 2009, a vascular surgeon proposed that multiple sclerosis was caused by venous abnormalities that responsible for the true cause of multiple sclerosis was venous insufficiency. This proposed theory was termed chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency (CCSVI). A number of studies have tried to confirm this theory since it would markedly change the approach to treating multiple sclerosis. However, most of the recent data has not shown a causal relationship between any venous insufficiency and multiple sclerosis. Ongoing studies are being conducted, but some experts suggest the more recent findings in the ongoing findings will disprove this hypothesis.

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A woman with multiple sclerosis walks down a hallway.

What is the life expectancy for a person with multiple sclerosis? Is it fatal?

People with multiple sclerosis are believed to have the same life expectancy of those without multiple sclerosis. However, those with severe, progressive forms of MS may have problems caused by the disability may lead to complications such as pneumonia.

If patients are not treated, over 30% may develop pronounced problems with mobility. It is not yet known what the long-term outcome of patients who begin treatment at an early stage of their disease will be.

There are two extremes in multiple sclerosis. The first is a "benign" syndrome in which patients have numerous lesions identified on MRI imaging, but have few -- if any -- symptoms, even decades after their diagnosis. At the opposite end of the spectrum is a condition identified as the Marburg variant of multiple sclerosis, where rapidly progressive symptoms are seen and death may occur after a very short time.

Can you prevent multiple sclerosis?

Without a clearly defined cause of multiple sclerosis, ways to prevent this disease have not yet been identified. Exercising regularly, getting sufficient sleep, or eating healthy meals will be of long-term benefit for many people, but have not been shown to be of help to prevent the development of multiple sclerosis.

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A lab technician doing research on multiple sclerosis (MS).

Which types of doctors and specialists treat multiple sclerosis?

Speech pathologist: A speech pathologist can help patients improve speech clarity, and some can even work on cognitive exercises for patients who have problems with memory. If swallowing problems are identified, speech pathologists can help determine the cause and whether therapy will help improve swallowing ability or if dietary changes are needed.

Primary care provider: A primary care provider such as a family doctor or internist is needed to help keep patients with MS in good health by keeping track of blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose, immunization status, and other factors.

Radiologist: A radiologist reads the imaging studies obtained to monitor the status of patients with MS by comparing current studies to prior studies, doctors can determine if the disease has stabilized.

Physical therapist: Physical therapists work to help patients regain mobility or strength. They also help patients determine how maintain their strength and mobility after a chronic disease is diagnosed.

Occupational therapist: Occupational therapists often work closely with physical therapists to help with mobility issues due to MS. Moreover, these therapists also teach people with MS how to adjust or modify things in their surroundings and homes by using tools or actions to safely perform daily activities.

Clinical psychologist: A clinical psychologist can help patients with MS who are experiencing depression, anxiety, or who need help in coping with their diagnosis. Psychologists provide counseling or psychotherapy; they do not prescribe medications. On occasion, they work closely with psychiatrists who determine if medications are needed, and if so, which medications to prescribe.

Neurologist: A neurologist is a doctor who has specialized training in diseases of the brain and nervous system. Some neurologists have additional training in treating multiple sclerosis.

What research is being done on multiple sclerosis?

Many areas related to the diagnosis and treatments of multiple sclerosis are being explored. These include more in-depth analysis of genetic factors, including factors, which may help with the diagnosis and prediction of patient response to treatment options. Drugs that show promise in eliminating or preventing new multiple sclerosis lesions from forming are being evaluated. These new MS medications include drugs in pill form and by injection. A good animal model of multiple sclerosis has not been yet developed. Researchers think that a working animal model would help with the development of medications to treat multiple sclerosis. Stem cell therapy, which may help reboot a patient's immune system so that multiple sclerosis lesions no longer form, is being evaluated more closely.

Quick GuideMultiple Sclerosis (MS) Symptoms and Treatment


   What's the prognosis with your multiple sclerosis?


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   How was your multiple sclerosis diagnosed?


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   Multiple Sclerosis (MS) - Causes


   Were you, a friend, or relative diagnosed with MS? What do you think the cause might be?

   Bladder infection is an infection of the bladder, usually caused by bacteria or, rarely, by Candida. Certain people, including females, the elderly, men with enlarged prostates, and those with chronic medical conditions are at increased risk for bladder infection. Bladder infections are treated with antibiotics, but cranberry products and adequate hydration may help prevent bladder infections.


   Chemotherapy is the treatment of cancer with drugs that can destroy cancer cells. These drugs often are called "anticancer" drugs. Chemotherapy is often used with other treatments. Coping with side effects (fatigue, nausea, vomiting, pain, hair loss, infection, diarrhea, constipation, fluid retention, mouth and throat problems) are important to understand when undergoing chemotherapy treatment. It is important to eat well during chemotherapy, and get the support you need both during and after treatment.

   CT scan (computerized tomography) is a procedure that uses X-rays to scan and take images of cross-sections of parts of the body. CT scan can help diagnose broken bones, tumors or lesions in areas of the body, blood clots in the brain, legs, and lung, and lung infections or diseases like pneumonia or emphysema.

   MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) is a procedure that uses strong magnetic fields and radiofrequency energy to make images of parts of the body, particularly, the organs and soft tissues like tendons and cartilage.


   Both CT and MRI are painless, however, MRI can be more bothersome to some individuals who are claustrophobic, or suffer from anxiety or panic disorders due to the enclosed space and noise the machine makes.

   MRI costs more than CT, while CT is a quicker and more comfortable test for the patient.

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   Liver Blood Tests

   An initial step in detecting liver damage is a simple blood test to determine the presence of certain liver enzymes in the blood. Under normal circumstances, these enzymes reside within the cells of the liver. But when the liver is injured, these enzymes are spilled into the blood stream, and can lead to diseases like fatty liver, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and hepatitis. Several medications also can increase liver enzyme test results.

   Lumbar Puncture

   A lumbar puncture or "LP" is a procedure whereby spinal fluid is removed from the spinal canal for the purpose of diagnostic testing. It is particularly helpful in the diagnosis of inflammatory diseases of the central nervous system, especially infections, such as meningitis. A lumbar puncture is also known as a spinal tap.

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   MRI (or magnetic resonance imaging) scan is a radiology technique which uses magnetism, radio waves, and a computer to produce images of body structures. MRI scanning is painless and does not involve X-ray radiation. Patients with heart pacemakers, metal implants, or metal chips or clips in or around the eyes cannot be scanned with MRI because of the effect of the magnet.

   MS (Multiple Sclerosis) Symptoms and Treatments


   Multiple sclerosis (MS) symptoms vary from person to person, and can last for days to months without periods of remission. Symptoms of MS include sexual problems and problems with the bowel, bladder, eyes, muscles, speech, swallowing, brain, and nervous system. The early symptoms and signs of multiple sclerosis usually start between age 20 and 40. MS in children, teens, and those over age 40 is rare. Treatment options for multiple sclerosis vary depending on the type and severity of symptoms. Medications may be prescribed to manage MS symptoms.

   Making an MS Friendly Home

   Adults with multiple sclerosis may be at risk for injuries, hazards, and falling at home. Some simple home modifications can protect your health and safety and facilitate fall prevention. Reduce your risk of accidents and prevent hazards with these tips.

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   MS Slideshow

   Learn about multiple sclerosis (MS) causes, symptoms, and treatment for this autoimmune disease that attacks the nerves of the central nervous system and damages myelin affecting the brain and spinal cord.

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   Learn about celebrities, such as Montel Williams and Jack Osbourne, who are living with multiple sclerosis.

   Muscle Spasms

   Muscle spasms are involuntary muscle contractions that come on suddenly and are usually quite painful. Dehydration, doing strenuous exercise in a hot environment, prolonged muscle use, and certain diseases of the nervous system may cause muscle spasms. Symptoms and signs of a muscle spasm include an acute onset of pain and a possible bulge seen or felt beneath the skin where the muscle is located. Gently stretching the muscle usually resolves a muscle spasm.

   Illustrations of MS

   In multiple sclerosis, an agent such as a virus or foreign antigen, in theory, may alter or interact with the immune system so that the immune system perceives myelin as an intruder and attacks it. See a picture of Nerve Fibers and Myelin Attack in MS and learn more about the health topic.

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   Vertigo Overview

   Vertigo is the sensation of spinning or rocking, even when someone is at rest. Vertigo may be caused by a problem in the brain or spinal cord or a problem within in the inner ear. Head injuries, certain medications, and female gender are associated with a higher risk of vertigo. Medical history, a physical exam, and sometimes an MRI or CT scan are required to diagnose vertigo. The treatment of vertigo may include:

       medication, special exercises to reposition loose crystals in the inner ear, or exercises designed to help the patient re-establish a sense of equilibrium. Controlling risk factors for stroke (blood pressure, weight, cholesterol, and blood glucose) may decrease the risk of developing vertigo.

   Vitamin D Deficiency

   Vitamin D deficiency has been linked with rickets, cancer, cardiovascular disease, severe asthma in children and cognitive impairment in older adults. Causes include not ingesting enough of the vitamin over time, having limited exposure to sunlight, having dark skin, and obesity. Symptoms include bone pain and muscle weakness. Treatment for vitamin D deficiency involves obtaining more vitamin D through supplements, diet, or exposure to sunlight.


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The cause of MS is still unknown – scientists believe the disease is triggered by an as-yet-unidentified environmental factor in a person who is genetically predisposed to respond.


The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, with at least two to three times more women than men being diagnosed with the disease.


Multiple sclerosis (MS) involves an immune-mediated process in which an abnormal response of the body’s immune system is directed against the central nervous system (CNS).  The CNS is made up of the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves.

Within the CNS, the immune system causes inflammation that damages myelin — the fatty substance that surrounds and insulates the nerve fibers — as well as the nerve fibers themselves, and the specialized cells that make myelin.


   When myelin or nerve fibers are damaged or destroyed in MS, messages within the CNS are altered or stopped completely.

   Damage to areas of the CNS may produce a variety of neurological symptoms that will vary among people with MS in type and severity

   The damaged areas develop scar tissue which gives the disease its name – multiple areas of scarring or multiple sclerosis.

   The cause of MS is not known, but it is believed to involve genetic susceptibility, abnormalities in the immune system and environmental factors that combine to trigger the disease.

   People with MS typically experience one of four disease courses. There are over a dozen treatments to help modify the MS disease process.




Myelin – the protective coating around nerve fibers in the central nervous system – is a primary target of the immune attack in MS.


Learn More

Immune-Mediated Disease


MS is considered to be an immune-mediated disease in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks myelin in the central nervous system.


Learn More

T Cells


In MS, immune system T cells pass from the bloodstream into the central nervous system to attack the myelin coating around nerve fibers.


Learn More


Multiple Sclerosis Health Center

What Is Multiple Sclerosis?


Multiple sclerosis, or MS, is a long-lasting disease that can affect your brain, spinal cord, and the optic nerves in your eyes. It can cause problems with vision, balance, muscle control, and other basic body functions.


The effects are often different for everyone who has the disease. Some people have mild symptoms and don’t need treatment. Others will have trouble getting around and doing daily tasks.

Read Article

Multiple Sclerosis Guide


   Overview & Risk Factors


   Diagnosis & Tests

   Related Conditions

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What to Eat for MS


Foods rich in omega-3s, vitamin D, and biotin may help reduce symptoms.







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Don't Wait to Take MS Drugs


The new guidelines, issued by the academy, took into account studies on MS drugs and concluded that it's best to start use of MS drugs as early as possible.


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