MS is a central nervous system (CNS) disease which damages the protective coating around the nerve fibres which transmit messages to all parts of your body, especially those controlling muscular and sensory activity. It is believed to be an ‘autoimmune disease’ so your body’s own immune system appears to attack itself. As the damage to the protective coating around the myelin nerve fibres increases, a process known as ‘demyelination’ occurs, the coating is gradually destroyed. These nerves then become less and less efficient at transmitting messages. The messages then ‘leak’ from the nerve fibres where demyelination has occurred, The leaking messages become weaker and more erratic, thus leading to greater and greater difficulty in controlling muscles or certain sensory activities in various parts of your body.
The rate and order of demyelination varies very widely between individuals, so the corresponding loss of muscular and sensory control also varies widely. Also even when damage does occur to the myelin, it is sometimes gradually repaired through internal body repair mechanisms; also inflammation at the site of the damage often becomes less over time. Normally, in MS the rate of repair is slower than the rate at which the myelin is damaged. Therefore the damage tends to accumulate more and more throughout the CNS. This damage results in plaques or lesions, which take the form of patchy scarring where the demyelination has occurred. Thus the name ‘multiple sclerosis’ has evolved.
There many different forms of MS. Each person with MS has a slightly different clinical and symptomatic profile; the precise course that any one person’s MS will take is not predictable. Scientists and doctors are always trying to refine their classification of types of MS, as they get to know more and more about the condition and its symptoms. You may therefore come across several slightly different ways of describing types of MS. The knowledge at this time is still minimal.
There are several main types usually described:
Relapsing-remitting MS is common especially in younger people. Symptoms worsen during an attack and may be at their worst for several days or a little longer, and then gradually improve in the following weeks. This phenomenon gives us the key to reversal as it is important for the body to have the capacity to heal and to be able to follow the leads as to what triggers the variations.
Progressive MS describes another pattern where symptoms gradually worsen after the first attack with a continuing increase in disability and it will involve deterioration in bodily movement of one kind or another, or even sensory performance.
Benign MS. This course of MS exists in which symptoms are relatively minor, or progression is soslow that it is almost clinically imperceptible and the course of the disease can be as long as 15 years following diagnosis. There is growing evidence that the course is initially almost the benign form, irrespective of initial symptoms. the medical analysis depends on the number and sise of lesions and they normally expect MS to eventually result in significant symptoms and disability, even though this may not occur for 20 or 30 years after diagnosis.