Multiple Sclerosis is a chronic disease of the central nervous system including the brain and spinal cord. In MS, certain cells in the immune system become activated and multiply before traveling through the blood vessels and into the central nervous system, where they attack the nerves. Once inside the central nervous system, these cells trigger a process involving other cells to mount an auto immune attack on the protective covering or myelin sheath around the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. This interruption of signaling leads to disruption of normal body functions causing disability.
MS is one of the most common neurological diseases in younger adults. About 2 million people worldwide are affected with MS. In general, MS tends to affect patients between the ages of 20 to 50. MS is two to three times more common in women than in men. Approximately 400,000 people in the United States are affected with the disease.
Patterns of MS
There are four patterns of MS disease progression that patients with MS may experience. Depending upon the course of symptoms, patients will fit into one of these patterns:
- 85% of patients have Relapsing Remitting MS (RRMS);
- 50% of RRMS patients develop into Secondary Progressive MS
- 10% of patients have Primary Progressive MS
- 5% have Progressive Relapsing MS
With remission, there may be partial or complete recovery from symptoms. During remission, a person can be stable, experience an increase in disability or both. Most patients with RRMS will have a gradual increase in disability over time.