Multiple sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease of the nervous system. In MS, there are defects in the communication between the brain and other parts of the body. MS effects can range from relatively mild in most cases to somewhat disabling to devastating. The symptoms may occur randomly (in flares) and then disappear. In the worst cases, a person with MS may be unable to walk, speak, or write.

During an MS flare, inflammation occurs in patches (called plaques) in any area of the nervous system. This inflammation causes damage to the myelin sheath. The myelin sheath is a fatty covering that protects nerve fibers in the brain and spinal cord. Myelin allows for the smooth, high-speed transmission of nerve signals between the brain, the spinal cord, and the rest of the body. When myelin is damaged, it may block or slow nerve signals, resulting in reduced or lost function.

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Review Date: 4/9/2018  

Reviewed By: Steven D. Ehrlich, NMD, Solutions Acupuncture, a private practice specializing in complementary and alternative medicine, Phoenix, AZ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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