MS and the Central Nervous System
Multiple Sclerosis is a disease that has to do with the central nervous system. Multiple Sclerosis is therefore not a muscle disease as is thought by many people. To understand the effects of Multiple Sclerosis on the body, it is useful to first understand the function of the nervous system, how it works in general and where the nervous system is located in the body. The central nervous system consists of the brain and spinal cord.
Control system of the body
The nervous system is the body’s control system. The central nervous system plays an important role in coordinating all kinds of conscious and unconscious activities that you undertake every day. Think of conscious activities such as exercise, speaking, thinking and remembering. Also think of unconscious activities (reflexes), such as withdrawing your hand if you burn yourself to something. In addition, through this system we can observe all kinds of stimuli from the outside and we are able to see, hear, smell, taste and feel.
What happens in Multiple Sclerosis?
Multiple Sclerosis has an effect on the central nervous system, causing multiple sclerosis complaints. Blood vessels are present in the central nervous system, supplying the nerve tissue with oxygen and nutrients. In Multiple Sclerosis inflammations occur in the brain, which are often located around the blood vessels and cause a slight swelling. These inflammations occur as a result of Multiple Sclerosis, because immune cells are activated to clear up the myelin. In Multiple Sclerosis the immune cells can not properly distinguish between the body’s own substance and foreign substances in the body. The result is that the immune system is activated to clean up the body-own substance myelin. This damages the myelin, which provides a protective insulation layer around the nerve processes. This is the moment at which Multiple Sclerosis complaints arise. In the central nervous system several cells are involved in the Multiple Sclerosis disease. Because so many different cells are involved, it is a complicated disease process. Click on the link to view the animation of what happens in the central nervous system in Multiple Sclerosis.
An MS relapse or relapse
An inflammatory period in Multiple Sclerosis patients is often called a ‘relapse’, an ‘exacerbation’, a ‘relapse’ or a ‘schub’. As a rule, inflammation, which is the result of Multiple Sclerosis, settles after a few weeks and recovery of the nerve tissue and myelin can occur. The information transfer thereby restores. Unfortunately, this recovery is not always complete. Extensive inflammations caused by the relapse often leave a scar in the nerve tissue so that residual symptoms of the Multiple Sclerosis symptoms can remain. Due to the thinning myelin layer, the information transfer via the nerve fibers can deteriorate and eventually nerve shoots can be lost. The name Multiple Sclerosis for the disease comes from the clinical picture because there are often several (multiple) inflammatory sites with various scars (sclerosis) in the central nervous system. The extent to which this process occurs is very different from person to person.