Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a lifelong condition that affects the brain and spinal cord (which make up the central nervous system, or CNS). MS has a wide range of symptoms, and although some are very common, there is no typical pattern that applies to every person with MS.
Symptoms can affect movement, sensation or emotions, and range from disturbed vision and muscle weakness to difficulties with balance and depression.
MS affects around 100,000 people in the UK, and is usually diagnosed in individuals when they are 20-40 years of age. MS affects more than twice as many women as men.
Despite much research, it is still not known why some people develop MS. However, it seems likely that MS occurs as a result of genetic and environmental factors.
MS in not a life-threatening illness in itself and, while there is no cure, with current treatment options most patients have a similar life expectancy to the general population. For treatment options, click here.