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What is MS?

Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system. The body’s immune system is responsible for fighting off viruses and bacteria.  In MS patients, the immune system is confused and some of its cells (“T-cells”) randomly trigger attacks on the protective coating of the nerves in the brain and spinal cord.  That coating, known as “myelin,” is vital to the nerves ability to transmit messages.  When it is under attack, damaged, or removed, the nerve cell doesn’t function properly and can die—this process is known as “demyelination.”  An area where this damage is done is known as a “plaque” or “lesion”—which is a hard area of scarring that can usually be seen on an MRI.  Multiple sclerosis literally means “multiple hardenings.”  When doctors are considering an MS diagnosis they are looking for the evidence of these plaques where the nerves have been wounded.