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27 MS Facts for World MS Day

27 MS Facts for World MS Day

Multiple sclerosis affects more than 2.3 million people around the world. In honor of World MS Day today, we have gathered 27 important facts about multiple sclerosis, to help our community raise awareness about MS.

We will be updating Facebook and Twitter with new facts throughout the day using the hashtag #strongerthanMS. To help spread awareness, please feel free to like, share, retweet, and/or comment on any or all of these 27 topics!

  1. Experts recognize 4 courses of MS: progressive-relapsing, secondary-progressive, primary-progressive, and relapsing-remitting.
  2. Of those diagnosed with MS, progressive-relapsing affects about 5% of people, about 10% are diagnosed with primary-progressive, about 85% are diagnosed with relapsing-remitting initially, and about 50% of people with relapsing-remitting develop secondary-progressive within 10 years of diagnosis.
  3. There is greater prevalence of MS in higher northern and southern latitudes.
  4. MS is much more common in females than males.
  5. MS is most commonly diagnosed in people between the ages of 20 and 50 years.
  6. The lifespan of a person with MS is just about as long as the lifespan of a person without the condition.
  7. While much effort and research has gone into finding out what causes MS, there are still no clear answers.
  8. In MS, a person’s immune system attacks the central nervous system, causing inflammation that damages myelin, the fatty coating that insulates and protects nerve fibers.
  9. To understand the central nervous system, it’s easiest to picture the nervous system as a tree. The CNS is the tree’s roots and truck.
  10. Out of the approximately 400,000 people who live with MS in the US, about 8,000 to 10,000 are children or adolescents.
  11. Fatigue is the most common and potentially most disabling symptom, affecting between 75% and 90% of people who have MS. Another common, yet less understood symptom of MS is pain, and this pain exists in many different forms.
  12. Numbness or tingling are common symptoms and the result of damage to nerves that transmit sensations from body surfaces to the brain.
  13. A relapse is when new symptoms or worsening of symptoms that persist for at least 24 hours and occur at least 30 days since a previous relapse.
  14. During a relapse, immune cells that normally circulate harmlessly in your blood stream attack and breakdown the blood-brain barrier.
  15. While there is no cure for relapses, treatment may help in speeding up recovery time.
  16. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is an important tool used for diagnosing MS and monitoring disease progression.
  17. MRI scans reveal abnormalities in the majority (90% to 95%) of people with MS.
  18. Radiologists and neurologists will use MRIs to look for evidence of new damage, primarily lesions, and evidence of chronic damage to the CNS.
  19. Disease-modifying treatments (DMTs) have been shown to be effective in decreasing the frequency of relapses or exacerbations.
  20. DMTs are given either orally or by injection or IV.
  21. While DMTs are effective in the majority of cases of MS, they have not proven to be effective in cases of primary-progressive MS.
  22. People with MS may experience emotional problems, such as depression, anxiety, mood swings, pseudobulbar affect (PBA), and stress.
  23. Clinically significant depression affects up to 50% of people with multiple sclerosis over the course of their lifetime.
  24. No specific diet has been scientifically proven to slow progression. Specialists promote the same low fat, high fiber diet recommended for all adults.
  25. Stress is a trigger for MS. It comes in many shapes and sizes from emotional and physical, to the stress on the body by extremes in temperature.
  26. Regular exercise, including exercises for strengthening, stretching, and coordination and balance, can be useful in managing many common MS symptoms.
  27. Scientists still have a lot to learn about the immune system and autoimmune diseases, but they do know it plays a role in the development of MS.

There’s so much more to understand about multiple sclerosis beyond what we have in our list. We hope you will continue to be a part of our community and share stories and spread awareness about MS.


  • Dianna lyn
    5 years ago

    Dear dogfreeright,
    I am not sure what level of MS you are whether it’s primary-progressive?? But, having suffered from MS now for many years, I have been there done that! Ate fresh vegetables that I grew out of my garden, went to the chiropractor, only to experience a short-term amount of relief. Not everyone can afford to eat healthy and go to chiropractic therapies. But, the pain..has only gotten worse. Now, I wake up in screaming intense pain at 3:00 a.m. Can I go the chiropractic therapy at that time, no, they aren’t open. #11 on the 27 MS facts I believe is wrong, I can deal with fatigue and fight it..But, extreme really hard to deal with, so please unless you have experienced that kind of pain, then don’t make it hard on the MS people who deal with pain and need their medicines to survive. Neurontin (a/k/a gabapentin) without that medicine, I cannot turn my head to the left or right.So, I call it my miracle pill, and wished other doctors out there wasn’t prescribing to other patients whom don’t need it. By the way, I don’t believe any person on disability should be on a gluten free diet of any kind. We need our vitamins, minerals and all the protein you can get to this horrible MS.

  • doGFREEright
    5 years ago

    I find it frustrating that diet considerations are barely mentioned and mostly brushed off! An anti-inflammatory diet can be a huge factor for many people, particularly because Celiac Disease & Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity are often a related autoimmune condition. Chiropractic care should also be considered as it can make a huge impact on nervous system functionality. Think beyond the meds!

  • Kelly McNamara moderator
    5 years ago

    Hi doGREEright. Thanks for your comment and being a part of our community! We agree that diet is an important topic for those with MS, and we’ve had quite a lot of discussion regarding diets on the site. Here’s an article that pulls together some of the highlights of conversations from our community members and writers: In our treatment section on the site, we also have information on alternative treatments and physical/rehabilitation therapy:
    Thanks again for your feedback. – Kelly, Community Manager

  • trloftus
    5 years ago

    The location of MS lesions makes all the difference regarding symptoms. As a patient with three spinal lesions and no brain lesions, I am very blessed not to experience symptoms like brain fog, balance issues or memory issues like other MS patients with brain lesions experience. I am grateful for that.

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