Multiple Sclerosis is a disease in which the body's immune system attacks the cells that produce the myelin in the white matter in the brain and spinal cord. The white matter contains the connections between parts of the brain and between the brain and the rest of the body. The myelin is like the insulation on the "wires" conducting the electrical signals by which the different brain cells communicate. When the myelin is damaged, the connections don't work properly. Why this attack occurs is not known. It may be the result of a virus attack. There are many theories about the cause but it isn't yet determined. Most treatments are targeted at the immune processes that lead to the damage. The treatments are only partially successful, but they have substantially improved the prognosis for MS patients over the long term.
MRI scan of the brain of a patient with MS. The white spots represent damaged white matter.
Useful MS Web Sites
We have looked at these books and recommend them as useful sources of information. Links are included to the Amazon website where they also can often be obtained used at a very nominal price.
- Multiple Sclerosis Q & A: Reassuring Answers to Frequently Asked Questions, by Beth Ann Hill.
- Multiple Sclerosis For Dummies, by Rosalind Kalb, PhD, Nancy Holland, RN, and Barbara Giesser, MD.