Multiple sclerosis

Alternative Names

MS; Demyelinating disease

Definition of Multiple sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease that affects the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system).

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Multiple sclerosis (MS) affects women more than men. The disorder is most commonly diagnosed between ages 20 and 40, but can be seen at any age.

Symptoms

Symptoms vary, because the location and severity of each attack can be different. Episodes can last for days, weeks, or months. These episodes alternate with periods of reduced or no symptoms (remissions).

Signs and tests

Symptoms of MS may mimic those of many other nervous system disorders. The disease is diagnosed by ruling out other conditions.

Treatment

There is no known cure for multiple sclerosis at this time. However, there are therapies that may slow the disease. The goal of treatment is to control symptoms and help you maintain a normal quality of life.

Expectations (prognosis)

The outcome varies, and is hard to predict. Although the disorder is chronic and incurable, life expectancy can be normal or almost normal. Most people with MS continue to walk and function at work with minimal disability for 20 or more years.

Review

David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. Previously reviewed by Daniel B. Hoch, PhD, MD, Assistant Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School, Department of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital. – 8/5/2010

Multiple sclerosis
MRI of the brain
Nerve supply to the pelvis
Central nervous system
Myelin and nerve structure

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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