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Multiple sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis (sklur-OH-suhss) (MS) is a disease of the brain and spinal cord. With MS, the immune system is believed to attack the protective coating, called myelin, around the nerves. The damage affects the brain and spinal cord. This can cause:

  • Muscle weakness
  • Trouble with coordination or balance
  • Numbness and a tingling feeling in the arms, legs, hands, and feet
  • Vision problems
  • Speech problems

Doctors use many tools and lab tests to find out if you have MS. If you have MS, your symptoms will most likely come and go. So getting the right diagnosis can sometimes take years.

Most people with MS are mildly affected. But MS can be debilitating in others. Some people with MS lose the ability to write, speak, or walk. MS can make it hard to concentrate or remember. Many people with MS also have depression.

There is no cure for MS. But many of the symptoms can be treated with medicines and physical therapy.

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Content last updated: September 22, 2009.

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