Sign In

Glossary   

Antibody
An antibody is a special protein molecule that can bind on to foreign substances and destroy or render them inactive.

Ataxia
Loss of coordination.

Behcet's disease
Behcet's (beh-CHETS) disease, also called Behcet's syndrome, is a rare disorder that causes chronic inflammation in blood vessels throughout the body. The inflammation of Behcet's disease leads to a variety of signs and symptoms that may seem unrelated.

Contraindication
A condition that makes a specific treatment or procedure inadvisable.

Glatiramer acetate
An FDA approved drug used to decrease the frequency of MS relapses, Glatiramer acetate is an artificial protein that resembles a natural myelin protein. It is not known exactly how the medication works, but it may help people who have multiple sclerosis (MS) by preventing the body's immune system from attacking the myelin coating that protects nerve fibers.

HTLV1 myelopathy
HTLV1 myelopathy refers to nerve damage (myelopathy) of the spinal cord caused by infection with the human T lymphotrophic virus type-1.

Interferons
An interferon is  a substance that can improve the body's natural response to disease. Interferons disrupt the division of cancer cells and can slow tumor growth. There are several types of interferons, including interferon-alpha, -beta and -gamma. These substances are normally produced by the body, but they are also made in the laboratory for use in treating cancer and other diseases.

Lhermitte’s phenomenon
This phenomenon is an electric shock-like sensation that travels down the back and into the arms or legs when the neck is bent. It is a common MS symptom, but can also be seen in other diseases affecting the upper spinal cord.

Lupus
Systemic lupus erythematosus, also known as SLE, or simply lupus, is a disease that is characterized by periodic episodes of inflammation of and damage to the joints, tendons, other connective tissues, as well as organs, including the heart, lungs, blood vessels, brain, kidneys, and skin. The heart, lungs, kidneys, and brain are the organs most affected. Lupus affects each individual differently with symptoms ranging from mild to severe. Lupus can be potentially fatal.

Lyme disease
Lyme disease (LD) is a bacterial infection caused by the spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi, a spiral shaped bacterium that is most commonly transmitted by a tick bite. The disease takes its name from Lyme, Connecticut, where the illness was first identified in the United States in 1975.

Natalizumab
Natalizumab is a laboratory-produced monoclonal antibody. It is designed to hamper movement of potentially damaging immune cells from the bloodstream into the brain and spinal cord.

Nystagmus
Shaking or jumping movement of the eye.

Optic Neuritis (ON)
Optic neuritis (ON) usually involves decreased vision and eye pain that develops over a few days time. Vision usually returns (completely or partially) over a few weeks. The risk of developing MS after experiencing ON depends on if an MRI scan of the brain shows abnormalities. Physicians may order a brain MRI scan to evaluate this risk of developing MS in a person who experiences ON.

Optic Neuritis can also be seen in many other diseases such as lupus or sarcoidosis.  ON is not contagious. In patients who are already diagnosed with MS, ON is a relatively common symptom.

Paresthesias
A tingling, burning or numb sensation.

Peptide
Short polymers (large molecules) formed from linking of a-aminoacids. Certain peptides are used to block interactions between cells critical to the immune response and inhibit and suppress the disease.

Plasmapheresis
Plasmapheresis is a medical procedure done at an outpatient center or hospital and usually takes three to four hours to complete. A small, thin tube (catheter) is placed in a large vein, usually the one in the crook of the arm, and another tube is placed in the opposite hand or foot. Some of the fluid in the blood (known as plasma) is removed and replaced with plasma with neutral proteins. This procedure is thought to remove inflammatory substances from the blood which may be causing or contributing to the MS attack.

Pseudo exacerbation
Infections, such as the flu or a urinary tract infection, or a fever, can sometimes cause existing MS symptoms to worsen temparily. These attacks are referred to as pseudo exacerbations.

Sarcoidosis
Sarcoidosis is a rare disease that results from inflammation. Ninety percent of the cases of sarcoidosis are found in the lungs, but it can occur in almost any organ. It causes small lumps, or granulomas, which generally heal and disappear on their own. However, for those granulomas that do not heal, the tissue can remain inflamed and become scarred, or fibrotic.

Sjogrën’s disease
Sjögren's ("SHOW-grins") syndrome is a chronic disease in which white blood cells attack the moisture-producing glands. The hallmark symptoms are dry eyes and dry mouth, but it is a systemic disease, affecting many organs and may cause fatigue. It is one of the most prevalent autoimmune disorders, striking as many as four million Americans.

Spasticity
Spasticity refers to involuntary muscle spasms or stiffness.  It is a common symptom of MS (link to spasticity page for more info)

Transverse myelitis (TM)
Transverse myelitis (TM) is an inflammation of the spinal cord. Symptoms are usually numbness and weakness of the legs, and difficulty urinating. Depending on where the inflammation is located in the spinal cord, TM can cause hand and arm numbness and weakness as well. TM is typically sudden in onset and reaches its peak within a few days. The risk of developing MS after experiencing TM changes depending on if an MRI scan of the brain shows abnormalities. The doctor may therefore order a brain MRI scan to evaluate this risk of developing MS in a person who experiences TM.

Transverse myelitis can be seen in many other diseases.  In patients with who are already diagnosed with MS, TM can be a common symptom.

Trigeminal neuralgia
Trigeminal neuralgia (TN), also called tic douloureux, is a chronic pain condition that causes extreme, sporadic, sudden burning or shock-like face pain.

Vasculitis
Inflamed blood vessels.