Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a disease of the central nervous system (CNS) — the brain, spinal cord and optic nerve. Within the CNS, the immune system attacks myelin — the fatty substance that surrounds and insulates the nerve fibers (acting much like the covering of an electric wire) — as well as the nerve fibers themselves. Myelin allows a nerve to transmit its impulses rapidly.
- When a person has MS their immune system, which normally stops a person from getting sick, attacks the insulating coating (myelin) that forms around nerves.
- The damaged myelin forms scar tissue.The term multiple sclerosis means ‘many scars’. In multiple sclerosis these scars appear at different times and in different areas of the brain and spinal cord.
- When any part of the myelin sheath or nerve fiber is damaged or destroyed, nerve impulses traveling to and from the brain and spinal cord are distorted or interrupted, producing a wide variety of symptoms.