What is Multiple Sclerosis?
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a nervous system disease that affects your brain and spinal cord. It damages the myelin sheath, the material that surrounds and protects your nerve cells. This damage slows down or blocks messages between your brain and your body, leading to the symptoms of MS. They can include
- Visual disturbances
- Muscle weakness
- Trouble with coordination and balance
- Sensations such as numbness, prickling, or “pins and needles”
- Thinking and memory problems
No one knows what causes MS. It may be an autoimmune disease, which happens when your immune system attacks healthy cells in your body by mistake. Multiple sclerosis affects women more than men. It often begins between the ages of 20 and 40. Usually, the disease is mild, but some people lose the ability to write, speak, or walk.
There is no single test for MS. Doctors use a medical history, physical exam, neurological exam, MRI, and other tests to diagnose it. There is no cure for MS, but medicines may slow it down and help control symptoms. Physical and occupational therapy may also help.
Multiple Sclerosis Resources
Multiple Sclerosis Foundation MS Focus provides grants to individuals with MS for much-needed services and devices. These may be directly related to their healthcare, such as funding for a neurologist visit for the uninsured, prescription co-pays, and physical, occupational, or speech therapy. Or they may be items that aid in adapting to changing circumstances, such as portable wheelchair ramps, hand controls for vehicles, or cooling aids for heat intolerance. Also, in keeping with our founding principles, we provide educational materials, such as fact sheets and booklets, to those with MS and their care team. We sponsor educational programs throughout the country that people can attend in-person. Furthermore, we actively assist people with MS in maintaining wellness through such services as support groups, exercise classes, and lifestyle education.
Multiple Sclerosis Association of America MSAA is a national, nonprofit organization founded in 1970. Our organization is dedicated to improving lives today through ongoing support and direct services to individuals with MS, their families, and their care partners.