What is Multiple Sclerosis (MS)?

It is a progressive, potentially disabling disease of the central nervous system that damages myelin, the protective layer surrounding nerves. This disrupts communication to and from the brain, producing symptoms such as:

  • Vision impairment
  • Loss of coordination and balance
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Pain
  • Bladder dysfunction
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Numbness
  • Weakness
  • Mood changes

The severity in which people experience the MS symptoms is related to the type of MS they have.

The MS Society of Canada recognizes four different kinds:

  • CIS : Clinically-isolated syndrome (which refers to a single episode of neurological symptoms that may suggest MS )
  • RRMS : Relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis
  • SPMS : Secondary-progressive multiple sclerosis
  • PPMS: Primary progressive multiple sclerosis

Treatments typically focus on

  • speeding recovery from attacks
  • slowing the progression of the disease
  • managing MS symptoms

According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS), the majority of people who have MS will experience a relatively normal life span. However, people who have MS also have to contend with other issues that can decrease their quality of life.