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National Multiple Sclerosis Society





What is MS?


Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body.


Multiple sclerosis (MS) involves an immune-mediated process in which an abnormal response of the body’s immune system is directed against the central nervous system (CNS), which is made up of the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves. The exact antigen — or target that the immune cells are sensitized to attack — remains unknown, which is why MS is considered by many experts to be "immune-mediated" rather than "autoimmune."

  • Within the CNS, the immune system attacks myelin — the fatty substance that surrounds and insulates the nerve fibers — as well as the nerve fibers themselves.
  • The damaged myelin forms scar tissue (sclerosis), which gives the disease its name.
  • When any part of the myelin sheath or nerve fiber is damaged or destroyed, nerve impulses traveling to and from the brain and spinal cord are distorted or interrupted, producing a wide variety of symptoms.
  • The disease is thought to be triggered in a genetically susceptible individual by a combination of one or more environmental factors.
  • People with MS typically experience one of four disease courses, which can be mild, moderate or severe.




What Causes MS?

In multiple sclerosis, damage to the myelin in the central nervous system (CNS) — and to the nerve fibers themselves — interferes with the transmission of nerve signals between the brain and spinal cord and other parts of the body.



Symptoms of MS



More Common Symptoms

  • Walking (Gait) Difficulties
  • Numbness or Tingling
  • Spasticity
  • Weakness
  • Visual Problems
  • Dizziness and Vertigo
  • Bladder Problems
  • Sexual Problems
  • Bowel Problems
  • Pain
  • Cognitive Changes
  • Emotional Changes
  • Depression


Less Common Symptoms

  • Speech Problems
  • Tremors
  • Breathing Problems
  • Headaches
  • Swallowing Problems
  • Seizures
  • Itching
  • Hearing Loss


Secondary and tertiary symptoms

Secondary symptoms are the complications that can arise as a result of these primary symptoms.

Tertiary symptoms are the “trickle down” effects of the disease on your life.



Resources & Support

Explore the MS Society’s programs, services, resources and connection opportunities to help you live your best life.



Treating MS

Comprehensive MS care begins with the diagnosis and lasts a lifetime. Learn how to work with your healthcare team to reduce disease activity, manage symptoms and maintain your quality of life.



Living Well With MS

See how a healthy diet, regular exercise, stress management and other wellness strategies can help you manage your symptoms and feel your best.


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Newly Diagnosed?

If you or someone close to you has recently been diagnosed, access our MS information and resources. 



Need more information - We are here!

Our MS Navigators help identify solutions and provide access to the resources you are looking for. Call 1-800-344-4867 or contact us online.




North Florida Chapter


TEL:  904-332-6810


FAX: 904-332-0898




8940 Western Way, Suite 16
Jacksonville, FL 32256



The North Florida Chapter works to improve the quality of life for people affected by MS in North Florida and raise funds for critical MS research. Join the movement toward a world free of MS.