OHSU

About Multiple Sclerosis

What is Multiple Sclerosis?  

nervous systemMultiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic condition that affects the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system). system), MS is caused when the sheath (called myelin) covering the nerve fibers in the brain and spinal cord becomes damaged.

This is known as demyelination. When this happens, electrical signals from the brain are slowed or blocked from reaching the eyes, muscles and other parts of the body. This can lead to problems with vision, movement, muscle strength, coordination and thinking.

What causes multiple sclerosis?

Despite a great deal of research, doctors don't know the exact cause of multiple sclerosis. Possible causes are a virus or immune system disorder. In an immune system disorder (autoimmune disease), the body mistakenly attacks its own tissue,

People with a family history of MS and those who live in a geographical area where MS is more common may be at slightly higher risk of the disease.

What are the symptoms of MS?

Multiple sclerosis can cause many different symptoms, which may come and go. If you have MS, you might have some symptoms, but not all of them.

Common symptoms are:

  • Vision problems
  • Difficulty walking
  • Problems with balance and coordination
  • Muscle weakness in arms and legs
  • Numbness, pain or tingling 
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Hearing loss
  • Bowel and bladder problems
  • Depression

Multiple sclerosis can affect you in many ways, from physical symptoms to lifestyle changes needed to cope with this disorder. The OHSU Multiple Sclerosis Center team is here to provide treatment and support for you and your family.