Information about multiple sclerosis
This is not meant to be a comprehensive listing about MS. It is just a collection of some facts about the disease and its impact on people. This is why we do the walk MS Maine Walk!
- MS is the most common cause of neurologic disability in people in their most productive years.
- There are now medications that can slow the progression of the the disease in many patients, but there is no cure (yet!).
- MS is more common in women than in men; the ratio of the number of women with MS to the number of men with MS is between 2:1 and 3:1.
- MS is most often diagnosed between ages 20 and 50, though it can occur in children.
- About 200 new cases of MS are diagnosed every week. That's more than one per hour!
- About 400,000 Americans are known to have MS; worldwide, there may be more than 2,500,000 people living with MS.
- MS is a disease in which the body's immune system attacks myelin, the insulation around nerve fibers, in the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord). The nerve fibers themselves may be damaged, too. The resulting scar is called "sclerosis". The disease can affect multiple areas in different parts of the brain and spinal cord (hence the name "multiple sclerosis").
- The signs and symptoms of MS depend on which areas of the central nervous system are affected in each person. If sensory pathways are affected, the person may experience numbness or paresthesias (tingling or pins-and-needles sensations). If motor pathways are affected, the person may experience weakness or paralysis. If visual pathways are affected, the person may lose vision. And so forth. You can find more information about the Symptoms of MS on the MS Society's Web site.
- The National Multiple Sclerosis Society funds MS Research, provides educational programs for health care professionals, supports training of MS specialists, offers services for people with MS, and engages in advocacy for people with MS and other disabilities. For more information, see About the Society on the MS Society's Web site.