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Multiple sclerosis (MS) – Better Health Channel

Posted: September 7, 2016 at 7:18 pm

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is the most common chronic disease of the central nervous system among young Australians. Victoria has more people with MS than any other state in Australia. MS is not contagious, but it is progressive and unpredictable.

MS occurs when the protective sheath (myelin) around the nerve fibres in the brain and spinal cord becomes damaged, causing random patches called plaques or lesions. These patches distort and interrupt the messages that are sent along these nerves. Sclerosis means scarring and the disease is labelled multiple because the damage usually occurs at a number of points.

There are many different health effects of this disease and no two people will share the same symptoms. The cause of MS is unknown and, as yet, there is no cure. However, treatments are available to ease symptoms and slow down the course of the disease.

The different types of MS are:

The progressive form of MS is characterised by a steady worsening of symptoms without any remissions. The symptoms can be any combination of the five major health problems of MS, including:

The trigger to the disease has not yet been discovered, but it is thought that genetic and environmental factors are involved. Research so far has found that, in nearly two thirds of cases, a relapse has been preceded by a viral illness.

Some of the medication treatments available include:

Some alternative therapies that may be helpful include:

This page has been produced in consultation with and approved by: MS Australia

Last updated: August 2014

Content on this website is provided for education and information purposes only. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your doctor or other registered health professional. Content has been prepared for Victorian residents and wider Australian audiences, and was accurate at the time of publication. Readers should note that, over time, currency and completeness of the information may change. All users are urged to always seek advice from a registered health care professional for diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

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Multiple sclerosis (MS) - Better Health Channel

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