What is MS graphic shows woman sat at a table on a see saw that's tipping to the left

The facts about MS

MS stands for multiple sclerosis. It's a neurological condition, meaning it affects your nerves. MS happens when your immune system attacks your nerves by mistake. It damages nerves in your brain and spinal cord.

‘Sclerosis’ means scarring and refers to the scars (also called lesions) that MS causes in your brain or spinal cord. These show up in magnetic image resonance (MRI) scans. It's ‘multiple’ sclerosis because the lesions happen in more than one place.

8 facts about MS

  • MS is a condition that affects your brain and spinal cord (your central nervous system)
  • MS is a life long condition but people don’t usually die from it
  • More than 130,000 people in the UK have MS
  • MS is the most common central nervous system condition that affects young adults
  • MS isn't infectious or contagious so you can't catch it from meeting someone with MS
  • Everyone's MS is different so no two people, even if they’re closely related, will have the same type of symptoms, or have them as badly
  • There is no cure for MS yet, but there are lots of ways to manage your symptoms. For many people, there are also drugs that can slow it down
  • Lots of MS symptoms are invisible, so you can't tell by looking at someone if they have MS, or what they're going through.

Who gets MS?

  • MS is more common in countries furthest away from the tropical countries around the equator
  • MS is nearly three times more common in women than men
  • In the UK people are most likely to find out they have MS in their thirties, forties and fifties. But the first signs of MS often start years earlier.
  • You don't inherit MS, but family members do have a slightly higher risk of developing it. As well as genes you get from your parents, MS might be caused by certain infections, smoking, being very overweight and being low in vitamin D (which you get from being in the sun).


Make a donation

Help us be there for everyone with MS

  • Please enter an amount

    Our minimum donation is £2, please enter a different amount.

£10could pay for two phone conversations with a trained member of our new Keep In Touch team

£20could pay for our MS Helpline team to answer a call or message from someone who needs our help

£65could pay for someone with MS to have a session with our Benefits Adviser to help them get the support they need

Every penny you give us helps us be there for someone affected by MS.

  • Please enter an amount

    Our minimum donation is £2, please enter a different amount.

£10a month could help cover the cost of a MS Helpline call with our specialist MS Nurse

£20a month could help people with MS get vital support from our Benefits Advisor

£30a month for a year could pay for a day on the MS Helpline, helping people in our MS community

Your regular donation means we can be there for everyone with MS. So no one has to face this pandemic alone.

MS researcher at work in lab, using a pipette

Urgent appeal: Help us be there for everyone with MS.

Urgent appeal: Help us be there for everyone with MS.