What is multiple sclerosis

About MS

Learn more about Multiple Sclerosis and our efforts towards finding a cure for this mysterious disease

MS stands for multiple sclerosis. Sclerosis is a Greek word meaning scars, and multiple means many, so an easy way to remember it is that MS also means ‘many scars’.

MS affects the brain and spinal cord, which is called the Central Nervous System. Your brain sends messages to your body telling it what to do, just like a computer. Messages travel from the brain down the spinal cord and nerves to all the different parts of your body. In people who have MS, the messages get interrupted by small scars on the myelin, which coats the nerve fibres.

This means that the messages trying to get to different parts of the body might not go through properly. So putting on your shoes, walking to the shop, or even balancing, can be more difficult for people with MS.

While some of the impacts of multiple sclerosis are easy to see, most go unnoticed by everyone except the person living with them. Many of the symptoms of multiple sclerosis are invisible; Pain, Balance, Spasticity, Blurred Vision, Numbness, Dizziness are just six such symptoms. It's hard for people to understand a disease they can't see.

Symptoms come and go. A person with MS may feel really healthy and have lots of energy one day, then find they struggle to get out of bed the next. They may find they can walk a reasonable distance one day, then struggle to walk to the front gate the next. To have a better understanding of what it might feel like to be a person who has MS, a new global project Seeing MS was launched in 2014 depicting photographs that visualise these symptoms (like Jessica Anderson in the photo above).

There are a number of medications that help ease some of these symptoms, however MS is currently a lifelong illness. All the while, Doctors and scientists continue the search and are making new discoveries every day that take us ever closer to one day finding a cure for this mysterious disease.

Your involvement and support of the MS Readathon ensures this search can continue – thank you!