World Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Day: 5 Facts Everyone Must Know!

multiple sclerosis

The last Wednesday of May (May 29 this year) is observed as World Multiple Sclerosis Day. The theme is “Visibility” which is based on the campaign ‘My Invisible MS’. The aim is to raise awareness about the invisible symptoms of MS and the impact of MS on the quality of life in the patients.

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune inflammatory disease of the central nervous system. It is a chronic progressive disease that causes a significant decline in neurological function and quality of life. The condition is estimated to affect around 2.5 million people worldwide[1] Although MS is less prevalent among Indians as compared to the Western population, the prevalence of MS in India is found to be approximately 8 in 100,000 people[2].  This World Multiple Sclerosis Day, let’s know some of the surprising and must-to-know facts for the condition but before that, here is what you need to know about the disease.

What Is Multiple Sclerosis (MS)?

In simple terms, MS is one of the commonly prevalent neurological disabilities. In this condition, the myelin sheath (a layer of fatty substance that covers the neurons) is destroyed. This affects the proper functioning of the brain and the spinal cord. It is an autoimmune disease which means that the immune system attacks its own cells. The exact cause is unknown, but it is believed to be caused due to a combination of various factors which include genetic susceptibility, metabolic disorder, viral infection or environmental factors which can lead to recurrent immune attacks on the CNS.

In most cases, people suffering from this condition are categorized into four different groups based on the course of the condition[3]. These are:

Relapsing-remitting MS: It is the most common form of multiple sclerosis and seen in around 85% of people with the condition. The key characteristic feature of this category is that the symptoms might flare-up or relapse which is followed by a phase of remission or an improvement in the symptoms. In some cases, the symptoms might disappear during the periods of remission.

Primary progressive MS: Around 10% of the patients with the condition may experience primary progressive MS. In this, the person may experience symptoms which tend to progress over time and may become severe as the disease progresses. It may not show periods of relapse or remission. Moreover, this type of MS may not respond to the medicines used to treat the condition as a result become more resistant over time.

Secondary progressive MS: This phase is seen in some people with relapse-remitting MS. In this, the patients might continue to experience worsening of the symptoms. This can cause the symptoms to appear with periods of remission or may cause the symptoms to become really severe and reach a plateau. In most cases, timely treatment and the use of medicines to alleviate the severity of the symptoms can help in delaying the severity of the condition.

Progressive-relapsing MS: As the name suggests, this form of MS tends to be progressive in nature right from the time a person gets to know about the condition. It may lead to occasional flare-ups of the symptoms which only become worse over the course of the disease. Moreover, there is no period of remission in people suffering from this form of MS. It is quite rare and seen in only 5% of the total patients with MS.

What Are The Symptoms Of MS?

Not all people suffering from multiple sclerosis show the same symptoms. The symptoms, its severity, and the course of the symptoms may vary from person to person. Some people with MS may not show until late in the course of the disease whereas others may show symptoms which become chronic and severe over time.

Some of the common symptoms of MS include:

-Pain in the back

-Muscle cramps and rigidity

-Difficulty in walking

-Mood swings


-Poor balance


-Blurred vision

-Difficulty speaking

-Pins and needles

-Problems with coordination

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5 Must-to-know Facts About MS

MS is a chronic inflammatory condition which requires proper diagnosis and treatment to lead a better quality of life and improve the symptoms. Here are some of the must-to-know facts about multiple sclerosis everyone needs to be aware of.

1. Studies have reported that women are twice as likely to suffer from the condition as compared to men. However, it is revealed that the severity of the symptoms is high in men. The reason for this is still not known.

2. Typically, multiple sclerosis affects people in the age group of 20 – 45 years. However, in rare cases, it may occur in children or older individuals.  It is reported that less than 1% of the cases of MS can occur in childhood and around 2-10% of all the cases of MS can occur after 50 years of age[4]. This means that MS can affect anyone irrespective of the age group, however, adults are slightly at higher risk.

3. The role of genes in increasing the risk of MS is known but there is no clear idea about how it is inherited. However, it is seen that the risk does run in families. It anyone in your family, for example, your parents or your siblings has the disease, your risk of developing the disease is around 5% and in the case of twins, the risk is around 25%[5].

4. Most people believe that every patient of multiple sclerosis might need to take support for walking. However, this is not true. According to numerous studies[3], around 50% of patients may need help walking within 15 years after the onset of the disease. Moreover, the symptoms and the severity of the condition may vary from one person to another. Some of the common symptoms of MS include numbness in one or more limbs, double vision, fatigue, bladder problems and loss in vision.

5. There is no cure for MS. The treatment is aimed at alleviating the symptoms with the use of medications like corticosteroids. However, these drugs do not stop the neurodegeneration but improve the severity of the symptoms and quality of life. Currently, there are around eight FDA-approved drugs which are used to reduce the disease activity and progression in people with MS[3].

**Consult India’s best doctors here**

Knowing about the different forms of the condition and its symptoms can help you to know how the condition progresses and what can be done to improve the quality of life of people with the condition. Read and share the article with as many people as you can to spread awareness about the condition.

(The article is reviewed by Dr. Lalit Kanodia, General Physician)

Recommended Reads:

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

Unfolding Multiple Sclerosis: From Causes To Management Strategies


1. Surya N. Rehabilitation of multiple sclerosis patients in India. Ann Indian Acad Neurol. 2015 Sep;18(Suppl 1):S43-7.

2. Malli C, Pandit L, D’Cunha A, Mustafa S. Environmental factors related to multiple sclerosis in Indian population. PLoS One. 2015 Apr 22;10(4):e0124064.

3. Goldenberg MM. Multiple sclerosis review. P T. 2012 Mar;37(3):175-84.

4. Ghasemi N, Razavi S, Nikzad E. Multiple Sclerosis: Pathogenesis, Symptoms, Diagnoses and Cell-Based Therapy. Cell J. 2017 Apr-Jun;19(1):1-10. Epub 2016 Dec 21. 

5. Rolak LA. Multiple sclerosis: it’s not the disease you thought it was. Clin Med Res. 2003 Jan;1(1):57-60.

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