Multiple Sclerosis: Overview

Multiple Sclerosis (often called just “MS”) is a disease of the spinal cord and nerves. The cause is an attack on the nerve and spinal cord cells by the body’s own immune cells (called an autoimmune disease). Symptoms are typically related to sensations (e.g. tingling, burning sensations), movement (e.g. weakness, partial paralysis, etc.), or other nerve-related symptoms (e.g. neuropathy). MS can cause all sorts of different symptoms in different parts of the body depending on which part of the spinal cord gets attacked. Prognosis is extremely variable with many people living with relatively minor effects for years or decades (i.e. no issues between symptom attacks), whereas some people get extremely debilitating and progressively worsening complications (loss of vision, paralysis, and so on). Symptoms may come separately or in groups, and may often come and go with attacks lasting weeks and remissions sometimes lasting years. Diagnosis of MS is quite tricky, definitive testing is problematic, and a lot of other medical conditions need to be considered in the differential diagnosis.

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