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Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an auto-immune condition that affects the nerves in the brain and spinal cord. It can cause a wide variety of symptoms including blurring or loss of vision, dizziness, muscle stiffness or spasms, loss of sensation or pins-and-needles, and fatigue and pain.

Multiple sclerosis is caused when the body's defence mechanism, the immune system, attacks and damages the protective layer around the nerves, which means that the nerves can no longer carry messages between the body and brain as well.

Around 100,000 people in the UK have MS. Symptoms usually develop between the ages of 15 and 45, and women are more likely to be affected than men, though both women and men can develop the condition.

Types of multiple sclerosis

There are two main types of MS:

  • Relapsing remitting MS is the most common form. People with this form of MS may have periods of remission where the symptoms become less bad or disappear completely, often for weeks or months at a time, but then the symptoms return. 
  • Progressive MS is when symptoms gradually get worse over a period of time, with few or no periods of remission. About half of those with relapsing remitting MS will go on to develop progressive MS.

For more information about multiple sclerosis, visit the NHS website.

Other information and advice

The Multiple Sclerosis Society UK has information and advice on living with MS, and the West Central London branch has support groups you can attend to get advice and help.

The Multiple Sclerosis Trust has information and advice on living with MS, an information helpline, and a range of publications covering treatment options, support and advice for the families of MS sufferers.

If you are concerned about multiple sclerosis, always consult your doctor.

Last updated: 07/07/2021