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Multiple sclerosis is diagnosed when the myelin (coating) of the nerve fibres becomes damaged, and the body's auto immune system believes that it is a foreign body that must be removed. Where the immune system attacks the myelin messages along the nerve system can become distorted, slowed down or lost completely. Eventually damage can be caused to the underlying nerve fibres, which can lead to permanent physical impairment.
There are three types of multiple sclerosis: relapsing remitting, secondary progressive and primary progressive MS. Relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis is diagnosed where symptoms flare up for a certain period of time, then disappear. Secondary progressive multiple sclerosis follows on from the first and is diagnosed by the development of permanent disability between relapses. Primary progressive multiple sclerosis is diagnosed where there are not flare ups of symptoms, but a permanent continued increase in the individuals severity of symptoms.
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