MS Awareness Month: Answering Questions

MS Awareness Month is a chance to bring multiple sclerosis to the forefront, to help advocate for people and families living with MS every day, and to educate the public. This March, we've devoted the month to helping foster greater understanding of MS in our community.

MS is often an "invisible" disease. So many common symptoms can be truly life-altering to those living with them, but not always apparent to the outside world. We've created this page of basic MS information for patients and families living with MS, to help them share the facts about MS with loved ones, friends, co-workers, neighbors, and anyone else who may not have a great understanding of what it means to live with MS.

This MS Awareness Month, we invite you to not only read the information included here, but also to share it with others. By answering some common questions, together we can build understanding of MS and how it affects those living with it.

Read on for more information, click here to download our PDF: "Answering MS Questions." 


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MS: The Basics

MS is a disease of the central nervous system that disrupts communication between the brain and other parts of the body. The severity of the disease and its symptoms vary from person to person. The cause of MS is unknown and although there are treatments that can slow disease progression, at this time there is no known cure.

What is MS?

MS is a chronic disease of the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves. Three factors appear to have an influence on developing MS: genetic predisposition, environmental factors such a geographical location, and a trigger, such as a virus.

How Does MS Manifest?

The nerve fibers in the central nervous system are protected and made more effective by a fatty substance, myelin, which helps the nerve fibers conduct electrical impulses to and from the brain. MS produces injury in the central nervous system when the immune system mistakenly attacks myelin. Areas of myelin damage are known as plaques, or lesions, and these eventually fill in with scar tissue. The name multiple sclerosis means “many scars.” MS can also cause destruction of the entire nerve. The damage from lesions disrupts the transmission of nerve impulses from the central nervous system to the rest of the body causing a variety of symptoms.

Common MS symptoms often include (among many others):

  • visual changes
  • heat sensitivity
  • muscle weakness
  • problems with balance
  • fatigue
  • muscle spasms
  • numbness
  • emotional and cognitive changes
  • anxiety
  • depression
To experience some of what it's like to live with these symptoms, we invite you to take a look at our video "Expressions of MS" for a better understanding of how MS manifests in patients' lives. YouTube video embedded to the right.


Many MS patients experience "quiet" periods when the disease is relatively dormant, but they may still be coping with one or a number of symptoms that aren't apprent to the outside world. These patients can also have periods where the disease is quite active, known as exacerbations. During exacerbations, symptoms can be more pronounced, but usually subside and sometimes go away entirely soon after an exacerbation. Other patients may not experience dormant periods, and instead live with constant symptoms or a progressive worsening of the disease. MS can sometimes lead to disability, depending on a multitude of factors.

Every case of MS is different and every patient's experience is unique. No person experiences the same symptoms in the same way, making MS a particularly difficult experience to explain or relate to others. At the Rocky Mountain MS Center, our focus is on treating the disease early and effectively with the aim of halting disease progression and mazimixing the lifelong brain health of MS patients.

Who Gets It?

MS is most commonly diagnosed in young adults. Eighty percent of MS patients develop MS between the ages of 16 and 45. Women are more frequently diagnosed with MS by at least 2 to 1. MS is the leading cause of disability in young women and the second leading cause of disability in young men. 

The worldwide prevalence is around 2.7 million, and more than 400,000 Americans have been diagnosed with the disease. In Colorado, we estimate that one in about 550 people have MS. 

How is MS Treated?

It's only been since 1993 that medications have been available to treat MS. Today there are 16 agents approved by the FDA for the treatment of MS, but these drugs are only partially effective. Research efforts to improve MS treatment are ongoing, and much of that research is being done by the RMMSC right here in Colorado. An encouraging new frontier is exploring potential strategies for neuroprotection and neurorepair.

Learning More

Whether you or a loved one has multiple sclerosis or want to learn more about MS, The Rocky Mountain MS Center provides many ways to keep you and others informed. Here are some great ways to stay up to date:

Visit other MS organizations' websites and learn what they’re doing to celebrate MS Awareness Month:


Join us for Conversations on MS!

Interested in learing more about multiple sclerosis? Join the RMMSC's Dr. Amanda Piquet in Boulder on Tuesday, March 27 for Conversations on MS. Conversations is an informal discussion on MS research, symptom management, clinical care options and more. Click "Register Now" to sign up for this free event.

Getting Involved

We are committed to educating the public about MS so that more people are able to understand what it's like to live with this mostly invisible disease. You can help us, first and foremost, by spreading the word. Share this page on Social Meida, send a link via email, or just tell someone you know to look us up at To stay up to date with all our programs and events, connect with us on Social Media:

 Facebook   LinkedIn   Twitter  YouTube

Volunteer with the MS Center

Our mission is to improve the quality of life of individuals and their families living with MS and related neurological diseases through care, support, education and research. Volunteers at the MS Center give their time and talent to help assure that mission is fulfilled. Volunteers at the MS Center find their place – something that especially interests them and matches with their time and talents, and join with other volunteers to provide valuable services. Click here to find a volunteer opportunity that's right for you.

Support the Rocky Mountain  MS Center

40 LogotypeIn 2018, we're excited to be celebrating our 40th Anniversary! The one common thread through those 40 years is the incredible support we’ve received from our community. People like you have made every breakthrough, every advancement, and every bit of growth possible – and we thank you. In 1978 we were a small group of individuals determined to make an impact on multiple sclerosis – in 2018, we’re a world leader in MS treatment and care, serving more than 4,500 patients and impacting even more through our education and research programs.

The Rocky Mountain MS Center is a 501(c)(3) Charitable Organization, Federal ID number 84-0795455. We have been rated a Gold Participant by GuideStar Exchange, an independent charity evaluation agency, the highest rating the agency awards.

We are committed to making sure your support goes where it's needed most -- that's why we work dilligently to keep our administrative costs low, and commit to you that 100% of the funds we raise support programs and services right here in Colorado.

Click here to go directly to our donation page, where you'll find a quick and easy form to use to make your contribution. We'd be happy to accept your donation in honor or in memory of someone you know, or direct your support to the area of your choice.



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