MS Explained

What is MS?

MS – Invisible Symptoms part 1

MS – Invisible Symptoms part 2

Anastacia – Sick and Tired – Video about what MS is and what it does

Doctors divide the symptoms into three groups: primary, secondary, and tertiary.

Primary symptoms come from damage to the protective sheath around the nerves in your spine or brain. The damage is called demyelination. It causes scarring, which makes it harder for signals to travel between the brain and the body.

This process can lead to bladder or bowel problems, loss of balance, numbness, paralysis, tingling, tremors, vision problems, or weakness. Medicine, rehabilitation, and other treatments can keep many of these problems under control.

Secondary symptoms follow the main problems of MS. For instance, not being able to empty your bladder can lead to a bladder infection. Doctors can treat secondary symptoms, but the goal is to avoid them by treating the primary symptoms.

Tertiary symptoms are the social, psychological, and job-related problems of coping with MS. For instance, if MS makes it hard for you to walk or drive, you may not be able to do your job well.

Because MS varies so much, it’s best not to compare yourself with other people who have MS. Your experience is likely to be different. Most people learn to manage their symptoms and can keep leading full, active lives.
© 2013 WebMD, LLC.

Central Nervous System (Brain and Spinal Cord)

Brain lesions (white spots)

MS = autoimmune illness

Nerve damage

© WVE and Ireland, MS and Me, 2011-2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to WVE and Ireland, MS and Me with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


  1. Billie says:

    Ila, you are so right. People have absolutely no clue about MS at all, and I also have been asked to do things because ‘sure, you look well so why don’t you?’, only to be treated discriminatory. That hurts more than some of my symptoms, and I really mean that. Even so-called good friends/colleagues/family members would say ‘ah it’s probably not that bad and if only you lost weight, you would be perfectly fine again.’ HELLO?!? Shall I take you to my medical checkups so you can see for yourself? Urgh… venting here now :) It’s something people have no clue about because you look fine, you talk fine, you walk fairly alright etc. Sorry but my insides feel like a war is going on inside it and there is no cure. What more do people need to know to finally believe you? I totally understand your frustration so. It is too sad indeed.


  2. MP says:

    Bravo to the National MS Society for producing these terrific videos. The two-part Invisible Symptoms series was of special interest to me. I live in Canada and have never seen this issue covered so accurately and comprehensively. This is a rare find! And one I can share with the people in my life who still don’t truly understand the experience of living with this complex and highly variable disease. Thank you! MP from Vancouver, Canada.


    • Billie says:

      Thank you for your comment!

      Yes, the invisible symptom video is a rare find but it’s very important that this is out in the open because a lot of people assume you’re OK simply because you don’t see any visible symptoms. I posted the 2 videos about it because I am dealing with people who seem to have their own ideas about what my illness should be like simply because I don’t sit in a wheelchair and because I “look great!” My answer is: “Jeez, you should feel my insides… I wouldn’t look great if they were on the outside!” :D)


      • The invisible symptoms are the most annoying bits of living with MS. People assume you are fine, when you aren’t. I love the invisible symptoms youtube videos. They were a god-send about a year ago. I just wish more people understood it, ya know. Someone in my family thought Marcus could move a refridgerator for them, I’m like…”Uh, no.” I hear, “But he’s better now”… TO which I responded, “What part of ‘chronic’ pain and ‘no cure’ makes you think that he is ‘better’ to the point that moving your refridgerator is okay? Sorry, but no, he isn’t moving it! I need him healthy, you can get someone else to move it or move it yourself.” Just this week, I got a request for Marcus to repair a roof for someone in our family… Really? Balance, Heights, and MS doesn’t really mix. I don’t care how “good” he looks. It’s frustrating, but it is really just a matter of not enough awareness about the disease. That’s just too sad.


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