Canada has the highest rate of multiple sclerosis (MS) in the world, with an estimated 100,000 Canadians living with the disease. While it is most often diagnosed in young adults aged 15 to 40, younger children and older adults are also diagnosed with the disease.
MS is currently classified as an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system (brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves). The disease attacks myelin, the protective covering of the nerves, causing inflammation and often damaging the myelin. Myelin is necessary for the transmission of nerve impulses through nerve fibres. If damage to myelin is slight, nerve impulses travel with minor interruptions; however, if damage is substantial and if scar tissue replaces the myelin, nerve impulses may be completely disrupted, and the nerve fibres themselves can be damaged.
MS is unpredictable and can cause symptoms such as extreme fatigue, lack of coordination, weakness, tingling, impaired sensation, vision problems, bladder problems, cognitive impairment and mood changes. Its effects can be physical, emotional and financial. Currently there is no cure, but each day researchers are learning more about what causes MS and are zeroing in on ways to prevent it.
We are here to help. No one needs to face MS alone. In communities across Canada, the MS Society provides information, support, educational events and other resources for people living with MS and their families. Learn more about the programs and services we offer.
Researchers funded by the MS Society are working to find the cause of MS, develop better treatments with less side effects, and ultimately cure the disease for everyone who is affected by it. Learn more about the research we fund.