Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a condition of the central nervous system affecting 100,000 people in the UK. Within the central nervous system the substance myelin protects the nerve fibres that ensure messages can travel smoothly between the brain and the rest of the body. Patients with MS have an immune system which mistakes the myelin for a foreign body and attacks it. This then causes the myelin to become damaged and results in the travelling messages to become disrupted, distorted or even stopped.
The damage to the myelin can advance into damage of the nerve fibres themselves, and is the cause for the development of disability over time.
Multiple Sclerosis symptoms vary depending on the area of the central nervous system that is affected. Physical symptoms may include problems with vision, balance, speech, swallowing and bladder, as well as fatigue, stiffness and spasms. Other associated symptoms include problems with memory, thinking and emotions.
Unfortunately there is no known cure for MS. However, there are a range of treatment options. These range from the simple management of symptoms, to the management of diet, exercise and lifestyle that many sufferers find useful to manage their health.
Disease modifying treatments have been shown to reduce the frequency and severity of the relapses associated with certain types of the disease. There are usually strict criteria for which patients can access these medications, and like all drugs, they can cause some side effects. Some patients opt for other unlicensed drugs or seek novel treatments to relieve the symptoms of MS.