Is MS active all the time?

Is MS active all the time?

How do we know when multiple sclerosis is causing damage? What’s happening in your brain when you’re not having a relapse? Here we’ll take a look at the relationship between how you’re feeling and what’s going on in your brain – it might not be as straightforward as you first thought.

Quick facts
  • It’s when MS is causing damage to the central nervous system (CNS) that it’s sometimes referred to it as being ‘active’. This MS activity is often visualised on an MRI scan 
  • The consequences of MS activity are not always predictable as it can cause damage that builds up over time, only causing symptoms later on
  • If your multiple sclerosis does not appear to be causing any damage on your magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan and if you’re not experiencing any symptoms, you doctor or MS nurse may say that it is currently “not active” 
Is my MS inactive?

It’s great when you feel better. But feeling well doesn’t always mean your multiple sclerosis isn’t causing damage to your CNS, or that it’s not active. Some of the MS-related damage, or lesions, in your CNS are directly linked to the various symptoms you feel. But there may be lesions present that aren’t resulting in any noticeable symptoms, and these are known as silent lesions. 

In other words, multiple sclerosis can be actively damaging your CNS without you knowing. Only MRI can detect silent lesions in your CNS.
 
Here are some things that research has found:

If my MS is active, why do I feel okay?

The brain is an amazing organ and sometimes it is able to repair the damage caused early on in MS, or it can even compensate for it by using alternative pathways in your brain. This explains why you may feel relatively well even while multiple sclerosis is causing damage to your CNS. It also accounts for why you may be able to fully recover from a relapse early on in your condition. 

But once damage to your central nervous system becomes more extensive, the brain may no longer be able to compensate. That’s why you may only notice more permanent changes to your physical, emotional and mental functioning later on in your disease. 

Useful links