SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Every year on May 30, people around the world recognize World Multiple Sclerosis Day. According to the World MS Day website, the theme for this day from 2020 to 2023 is “connections.” The goal of that theme is to help people who have Multiple Sclerosis (MS) build connections to their community and self as well as to quality-care. For those without MS, this is a time when they can learn more about the condition and how they can support those with it.

So, what is MS?

 According to the Mayo Clinic, MS is a disorder where the immune system of the body attacks the protective covering of the nerve cells in the brain, optic nerve and spinal cord. This protective covering is called the myelin sheath.

Dr. Oliver Tobin described in a video for the Mayo Clinic how the loss or damage of the myelin sheath is similar to the loss of the insulation on an electrical wire. This impacts the signals being transmitted throughout the body. The body can heal these places where the myelin sheath has been damaged but doing so leaves scars. That, Tobin says, is where the disorder gets its name.

What are the different types of MS?

According to the MS Society of the United Kingdom, there are three main types of MS: Relapsing, Secondary Progressive and Primary Progressive.

Relapsing Remitting MS is characterized by distinct attacks of symptoms which go on to fade partially or completely over time. These symptoms can be new symptoms or returns of old symptoms. This type is the diagnosis of around 85% of people with MS. You can read more about this type through the link here.

For many, the diagnosis of Secondary Progressive MS is what eventually follows the original diagnosis of Relapsing MS. This type of MS means that the disability is getting worse over time and no longer relapsing episodically. This diagnosis is less common than it used to be now that there are new therapies available for those who have been diagnosed with Relapsing MS. You can read more about this type through the link here.

Finally, there is Primary Progressive type of MS. This type is diagnoses whenever a person’s MS does not appear to be episodic attacks but instead gets worse from the start and continues to get worse as time passes. Around 10 – 15% of people who are diagnoses with MS will be diagnosed with this type. You can read more about it through the link here.

Are there treatments for those with MS?

While there is currently no cure for MS, there are treatments and medications available to help slow the progression of the disease and manage symptoms. These treatments also focus on helping the person suffering from the attack to recover as quickly as possible from the attack. You can see a full list of available treatments and medications for those with MS by clicking the link here.