How Multiple Sclerosis Affects The Nervous System – Peer-reviewed by Deborah Weatherspoon, Ph.D., MSN — With Story by Colleen M. — Updated on June 23, 2023

Multiple sclerosis (MS) causes white blood cells to attack your neurons (nerve cells). Damage caused by scar tissue in your neurons can reduce communication between your brain and body.

How Multiple Sclerosis Affects The Nervous System

How Multiple Sclerosis Affects The Nervous System

If you or a loved one has multiple sclerosis (MS), you already know about the symptoms. They may include muscle weakness, problems with coordination and balance, problems with vision, thinking and memory, and sensations such as numbness, tingling, or “pins and needles.”

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What you may not know is how this autoimmune disease affects the body. How does it interfere with the messaging system that helps your brain control your actions?

Nerve damage can occur anywhere in the spinal cord and/or brain, which is why the symptoms of MS can vary from person to person. Depending on the location and severity of the white blood cell attack, symptoms may include:

MS attacks tissue in the brain and spinal cord, known as the central nervous system (CNS). This system consists of a complex network of nerve cells responsible for sending, receiving, and interpreting information from all parts of the body.

During daily life, the spinal cord sends information to the brain through these nerve cells. The brain then interprets the information and controls how you react. You can think of the brain as a supercomputer and the spinal cord as the cable between the brain and the rest of the body.

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Nerve cells (neurons) carry messages from one part of the body to another through electrical and chemical impulses. Each has a cell body, dendrites, and an axon. Dendrites are thin, web-like structures that extend from the cell membrane. They act as receptors, receiving signals from other nerve cells and sending them to the cell body.

Axons, also called nerve fibers, are tail-like projections that work opposite dendrites: they send electrical impulses to other nerve cells.

A fatty material known as myelin covers the axon of a nerve cell. This sheath protects and insulates the axon like a rubber sheath protects and insulates an electrical cord.

How Multiple Sclerosis Affects The Nervous System

Myelin is made up of lipids (fatty substances) and proteins. In addition to protecting the axon, it also helps nerve signals travel quickly from one part of the body to another, or to the brain. MS attacks the myelin, breaking it down and interrupting nerve signals.

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Scientists believe that MS starts with inflammation. Anti-infection white blood cells that are stimulated by some unknown force enter the central nervous system and attack nerve cells.

Scientists speculate that latent viruses, when activated, can cause inflammation. A genetic factor or a malfunctioning immune system may also be to blame. Whatever the spark, the white blood cells continue to offend.

When inflammation increases, MS is triggered. Attacking white blood cells destroys the myelin that protects nerve fibers (axons). Imagine a damaged electrical cord with a visible wire, and you will have a picture of what nerve fibers look like without myelin. This process is called demyelination.

Just as a damaged electrical wire can break or cause frequent surges, damaged nerve fibers will be ineffective in transmitting nerve impulses. This can cause symptoms of MS.

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If you get a cut on your hand, the body forms a scab over time as the wound heals. Nerve fibers also form scar tissue in areas of myelin damage. This tissue is hard, rigid, and blocks or blocks the flow of messages between nerves and muscles.

These areas of damage are usually called plaques or lesions and are the main sign of the presence of MS. In fact, the words “multiple sclerosis” mean “many scars.”

During inflammation, attacking white blood cells can also kill glial cells. Glial cells surround nerve cells and provide support and insulation between them. They keep nerve cells healthy and produce new myelin when it is damaged.

How Multiple Sclerosis Affects The Nervous System

However, if glial cells are killed, they are unable to continue repair. Some new MS therapy research is aimed at transporting new glial cells to the site of myelin damage to help encourage rebuilding.

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An MS episode or period of inflammatory activity can last anywhere from a few days to several months. In relapsing/remitting forms of MS, the person usually goes into “remission” without symptoms. During this time, the nerves will try to repair themselves and may create new pathways around the damaged nerve cells. Remission can last from several months to years.

However, progressive forms of MS do not show much inflammation and may not show any remission of symptoms, or at best they will simply plateau and then continue to cause damage.

There is no known cure for MS. However, current treatments can reduce the disease and help control symptoms.

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How Multiple Sclerosis Affects The Nervous System

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What Is Ms (multiple Sclerosis)?

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a common autoimmune neurological disease. It has gained popularity over the years influencing celebrities such as Montel Williams, Richard Pryor, and Jamie-Lynn Sigler. Read on to discover the causes, diagnosis, mechanisms, and risk factors of MS.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic disease that weakens the body’s immune system where nerve damage (demyelination of neurons) in the brain and spinal cord disrupts their communication with the body.

MS is the leading cause of disability in young adults and is a common inflammatory brain disease. It is common in young women, but other groups can be affected, too [1].

Anemia and damage to neuronal axons can cause many of the negative effects seen with symptoms associated with multiple sclerosis. Clinical diagnosis can be made through clinical imaging (MRI) and laboratory testing (CSF testing) [2].

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Considering that MS patients present different symptoms unique to themselves, management should be patient-centered and each symptom should be alleviated individually. Patients suffering from fatigue and muscle weakness can undergo physical therapy to be able to perform daily activities [7].

Based on these symptoms alone, MS is difficult to diagnose noninvasively because the disease shares many symptoms with other neurological disorders such as

. Therefore, clinical symptoms combined with clinical examination/laboratory testing, known as McDonald’s diagnostic criteria, are sufficient for diagnosis [8, 9].

How Multiple Sclerosis Affects The Nervous System

When MS develops for the first time, usually in young patients (younger-30s), it often manifests itself as relapsing-remitting MS – the disease flares up and then disappears. After 1-2 decades, it can progress to progressive MS, when the symptoms do not go into remission and can get worse. This method is observed in approximately 85% of cases [10].

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The remaining 15 percent of MS cases are primary progressive MS, which begins as a progression. In some cases, the disease may progress and then go into remission [11].

Degeneration of neuronal axons is an early event and continues over time. Surprisingly, the severity and level of damage decreases over time [12, 13].

Due to the destruction of neuronal axons, the signs and symptoms of the early stages of MS are similar to those of the later stages, which include [14, 3]:

The causes and risk factors of MS are still not fully understood. It is a complex disease with many different and interrelated factors influencing its development and onset. Both environmental and genetic factors together contribute to MS [15].

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In women, the onset of MS is generally earlier. However, men tend to progress faster and have a more severe disease course [18].

This difference may be caused by differences in sex hormones and the immune environment between men and women [18].

Estrogen can increase the body’s immunity at low levels. However, at high levels, it has the opposite effect – it protects against MS by shifting away from inflammation

How Multiple Sclerosis Affects The Nervous System


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