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What is MS

MS- societies have made it their task worldwide, to promote and support Multiple Sclerosis research.

The aim of the Austrian MS Society is to provide guidance information, advice and assistance to adjust to the new MS-related situation in cooperation with doctors.


MS is...

One of the most frequent Neurological illnesses, which attack the brain and the spinal cord with scattered fragments. MS is often put on a level with the fortune of sitting in a wheelchair. But there are also good-natured progressive forms possible. The process with this “disease with many faces” can’t be foreseeable and so it is uncertain.An uncertainness, which triggers fear and emotional distress.

Since this incurable disease, which mostly starts in early adulthood-age, was identified, there are numerous theories about the reason for MS. There are many open questions, although the suppositions that MS is an autoimmune disease have been substantiated in the last twenty years.


MS is not...

The process of MS and the symptoms are different from one patient to another one, so generally admitted predictions can’t be given. 


MS is

 not contagious

 not fatal

 not hereditary

 not a muscle atrophy

 not a mental disease.


Basic information about multiple sclerosis


Multiple sclerosis (MS), also known as Encephalomyelitis disseminata, is a disease which affects the central nervous system. White blood-cells like lymphocyte subset pattern, plasma cells and macrophages harm the myelin sheath in the brain and the spinal cord . because they are mistaken for exogenous tissue (autoimmune disease). This happens especially under conditions in which the immune system is stimulated by stimuli such as infection, stress, exposure to heat and sometimes vaccinations or experiences of separation and in the context of this stimulation so-called autoreactive T lymphocytes across the blood-brain barrier into the brain or spinal cord Immigrating and put in the clifftop white matter inflammation processes in motion. However, repair mechanisms can trigger processes that make the myelin degradation partly reversed


Affected by MS are mainly young adults. Most patients are between 25 and 35 years old, twice as many women as men suffer from MS.


MS indicates for most patients a so-called relapsing-remitting course, that within a few days caused symptoms (visual and emotional disorders, paralysis, coordination and voiding dysfunction), which usually subside after a few weeks almost entirely. After a course of ten to fifteen years, may lead to a chronic course. In advanced stages of MS , some patients in addition to physical impairments or concentration and thought disorder, often develop depressive mood states.


Frequency of MS is higher in  regions of the world with temperate climates. In Austria about every thousandth inhabitants has MS, ie there are in Austria some 8 000 MS patients. Therefore the MS must be regarded as an illness of middle frequency (of other neurological illnesses such as a stroke, epilepsy and Parkinson's disease are ten to one hundred times as many patients affected).


In exceptional cases, infants or young children can suffer with MS. Very rarely, in people who are older than 50 years. Demyelinierungsvorgänge can also appear in the central nervous system of healthy people because autopsies have shown that some deceased people have typical MS- findings in the brain, but have not had any neurological deficits during their lifetime.

How long

The course of MS is very different, some patients probably only have symptoms a few times in their lives, and others up to several times per year and require medical assistance. A measure of the speed of progression of  MS is the so called progression index, indicating the course as an average, how many EDSS points per year an MS patient gathers. A mean value is 0.3 points, so it must be normally assumed that at after 20 years of MS results in a considerable degree of disability. EDSS is the abbreviation for Expanded Disability Status Scale, is a semi-quantitative scale that ranges from 0 to 10 and is measured with the aid since the 1950’s, to what degree of disability an MS patient suffers.


Despite intensive research, the pathogenesis of MS is still unknown. Most experts believe that MS is an autoimmune inflammation, which can be triggered by infections or other immune-stimulating events in genetically susceptible individuals and remains for life in a different activity. Using MS related animal studies, of the so-called experimental allergic encephalitis (EAE) in further attempts to clarify the pathogenesis of human MS.

By which

The acute inflammation is usually treated with intravenous corticosteroid doses. Since the early 90s so-called immune-modulatory prophylaxis beta-interferons are available, for several years glatiramer acetate is also available. If the MS is very active, cytotoxic drugs such as mitoxantrone, cyclophosphamide or azathioprine may be used. Symptomatic treatment analgesic, anti-spastic, micturition stabilizing or antidepressant medications are effectively available. In individual cases, medicines for the frequently occurring daytime fatigue in MS patients must be used. An important branch of non-drug treatment is physiotherapy with the strength of the muscles and sense of balance (coordination) can be trained by the patients. Important for the well-being of patients is the application  of our behaviour to the right level of social assistance, open discussion climate and psychological support. These assistance measures are available in Austria, for the most part MS-national companies and is coordinated. MS patients can also benefit from complementary medical treatments.


The prognostic assessment of MS is difficult at the beginning of the illness, but essential for the creation of a differentiated treatment regime. Appropriate therapy planning can be made only if prognostically relevant information is gathered in detail. This anamnestic data play an important role along with various additional findings and the clinical course of the disease itself. An optimal therapy should provide a conservative estimate that at least two-thirds of MS patients can avoid the dreaded wheelchair as a means of transportation.

Why not

Compliance with individually different behaviour of prophylactic recommendations should be considered as the basis for a very mild MS course. Most MS patients should have a regular rest schedule / comply with and be adequately informed of how to behave in the case of infections, travel, vaccinations, dental visits, and stress. Furthermore, it has proven to be useful when MS patients become active to set meaningful action to increase physical and mental fitness. Note: For most prophylactic measures - casually speaking and English speaking - the rule: Cool is the rule.

Why still

Some activities in everyday life, which can worsen the process should still be maintained in individual cases, namely when the individual patient has an enormous satisfaction from these activities. Satisfaction and joy have an immunosuppressive effect and thus in the case of MS patients health over unspecified known biological mechanisms. Therefore MS patients should clarify if sexual abstinence or sexual hyperactivity has a negative impact for them.

History and prospect

MS was first described in the 18th and detailed (tissue sections, microscope, drawings, clinical reports) in the 19th century. Neurologists and neuropathologists as J. Cruveilhier (1791-1873), R. Carswell (1793-1857), FT Frerichs (1819-1885, JM Charcot (1825-1893) and O. Marburg (1874-1948) provided valuable expertise to better understand the pathological and clinical manifestations of MS. In the past two decades, genetic and pathological immune oriented research groups, the introduction of magnetic resonance imaging and other investigative techniques to improve the understanding of the appearance of MS and the development of new therapeutic approaches accelerated.
Despite all efforts, MS is still a illness that cannot be cured and so affected are vitiated by it more or less over decades of their lives. How large these efforts may be in individual cases, witnessed by the diaries of Sir Augustus d'Este (1794-1848), the precise description of the illness provided over 26 years from the patient's perspective. Also in the works of the German poet Heinrich Heine are indications, that he had been diagnosed with MS and their impact episodically thwarted his career plans.
Whether MS can be cured in the near future, nobody knows. It is clear that there has never been such promising research approaches as today. Equally obvious, however is, that it will require great cooperative effort between Patients, Clinicians’ Neurologists in theoretical research in order to get the tortuous paths that can take the MS in its creation and flow so on the ropes enough to trigger substantial relief for those affected.



The MSGT relies on active help and support. This is the only way we can continue our voluntary work for people with Multiple Sclerosis. We ask you to support us with a donation and look forward to your contribution. Thank you for your solidarity with the people with MS! Bank details MSGT Multiple Sclerosis Society Tirol

Raiffeisenbank Oberland

IBAN: AT16 3635 9000 0761 1221