Multiple sclerosis is an inflammatory disease that damages the brain and spinal cord. Scars, or lesions, on the brain and spinal cord interfere with messages to the nerves, causing impairment in sensation, movement, cognition or other functions.
MS is an unpredictable disease and affects people differently. There are different types of MS, different courses for disease progression and different symptoms, which can appear sporadically or be ongoing. Symptoms may include muscle weakness, tension, loss of balance, vision problems, fatigue and pain depending on which part of the central nervous system is being affected at the time.
The cause of MS is unknown; however, research suggests that it is an abnormal autoimmune response. Myelin, the fatty covering which acts like the plastic coating on an electrical wire, is attacked in genetically susceptible individuals exposed to certain environmental factors. There seems to be a combination of genes that makes one person more susceptible to the infectious agent(s) than someone else with a different genetic makeup. Whilst several different viruses and bacteria have been studied for their possible role in MS, the triggers have not yet been found. What is known is that MS is not a contagious disease and cannot be transmitted through interaction with others.