Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a neurological condition that leaves people with diverse and varying degrees of disability. Currently there is no database showing how many people are affected by MS however very conservative figures show that around 1 in 600 people in the UK have the condition.
To understand what happens in MS, it’s useful to understand how the central nervous system works: A substance called myelin protects the nerve fibres in the central nervous system and ensures that messages travel quickly and smoothly between the brain and the rest of the body.
In MS, the immune system (which normally helps to fight off infections) mistakes myelin for a foreign body and attacks it. This damages the myelin and strips it from the nerve fibres. Messages travelling along those nerve fibres can then slow down, become distorted, or not get through at all.
As well as myelin loss, there can also sometimes be damage to the nerve fibres themselves. It is this nerve damage that causes the accumulation of disability that can occur over time.
MS can be a very frightening condition because once diagnosed, a person will not know how affected they will be. Whilst there has been great progress with disease modifying drugs (DMDs) there is still currently no cure. However, we can do things to help people with MS manage the condition to keep mobile and maintain independence.