Multiple Sclerosis (MS) FAQs
What is multiple sclerosis?
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic disease that affects different parts of the central nervous system at different points in time. The central nervous system is made up of the brain and spinal cord (see Multimedia file 1). The brain controls bodily activities, such as movements and thoughts. The spinal cord serves as a pathway for messages between the brain and various parts of the body. These messages participate in most bodily actions. Because MS affects different parts of the central nervous system, it can affect the functioning of many parts of the body.
Many researchers consider MS an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system. With an autoimmune disease that affects the brain or spinal cord, the body's immune system, its defense system against infection and disease, treats normal central nervous system tissues as if they are foreign and attacks them. When the immune system attacks tissues in the central nervous system, as in MS, the messages the brain sends get interrupted.
Carmel Armon, MD, MHS, MSc
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