“Ok then, what is Multiple Sclerosis?” Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an inflammatory disease of the Central Nervous System (CNS) – that’s the brain and spinal cord. Predominantly, it is a disease of the “white matter” tissue. The white matter is made up of nerve fibres which are responsible for transmitting communication signals both internally within the CNS and between the CNS and the nerves supplying rest of the body.
In people affected by MS, patches of damage called plaques or lesions appear in seemingly random areas of the CNS white matter. At the site of a lesion, a nerve insulating material, called myelin, is lost. I shall explain this process in more detail later. Clinically, MS is a hard condition to characterise because it is very unpredictable and variable. Depending on which areas of the CNS are affected and how badly they are damaged, the type and severity of symptoms can vary greatly.
No two people get MS in exactly the same way and the expression of each individual’s disease is as unique as their fingerprints. However, the different courses of the disease, both within an individual and within the whole population, principally differ in their timing, location and severity. Underneath similar processes (including demyelination and sometimes other forms of nerve degeneration) are going on.