Multiple sclerosis (MS) affects a person’s “nervous system”. Your nervous system sends messages around the body to and from the brain about such things as heat or pain. It’s a bit like the wires that connect computers or telephones, except the wires are made of long chains of tiny cells called “neurones”. Many messages go down our spinal cords — a big bundle of these wires inside our backbones.
The body protects neurones by covering them in something called myelin, which is a bit like the cladding around electrical wiring. And that’s where problems can arise for people who develop MS.
When someone has MS, their immune system, which usually protects them from illness, becomes over enthusiastic and start attacking the myelin cladding that protects our neurones. The myelin becomes ‘scarred’.
If the myelin is damaged, it becomes more difficult for messages to travel from one neurone to the next. Sometimes the messages become confused or get lost.
Sclerosis comes from the Greek word for scars. We say multiple because there can be lots of bits of scarring in neurones around the brain and the spinal cord. As each chain of neurones sends messages to different parts of us, scarring in each area will affect us in different ways, so it’s hard to guess how MS will show up in different people.
There is a wealth of information available within the “Info Point” at the Neuro Therapy Centre. You are welcome to come along and browse through the leaflets and brochures on our shelves or to search on our fully accessible PC, which has been generously provided by the MS Society, both nationally and locally, and by the MS Trust.
For more information about MS...