Multiple sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease of the central nervous system. MS can disrupt signals in the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves. This causes various symptoms and impairments to develop. It is a disease, but its course and symptoms vary from person to person. Hence the disease of 1000 faces.

Who gets MS

MS is a leading cause of non-traumatic impairment in young people.1,2
MS is often diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 40.3
Women are twice as likely to be affected by MS as men.2
Approximately 2.8 million3 people worldwide have MS.

Disease incidence is highest in countries furthest from the equator.4
Approximately 15,0005 people in Switzerland have MS.

Symptoms can affect almost any part of the body and mind

MS patients can have many different symptoms.6

Up to 90% of people with MS suffer from fatigue).7

Within 15 years of disease onset, more than 50% of people with MS have difficulty walking.6,8,9

Visual difficulties are common and an early symptom in 15-20% of people with MS.10

At least 80% of people with MS have bladder dysfunction.11

Depression is three times more common in people with MS.12

People with MS are twice as likely to have sleep problems.13

Relapsing forms of MS:

Relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS)

85% of MS patients are initially diagnosed with RRMS.15

Progressive forms of MS:

Secondary progressive MS (SPMS)

Progression of the disease in most patients with RRMS to SPMS.16

Progressive forms of MS:

Primary progressive MS (PPMS)

10% -15% of people with MS are diagnosed with PPMS.15

Research is moving forward

MS cannot be cured, but research continues so that the disease can be better understood and treated.6

What causes MS?

What are the new ways to monitor disease activity?

How can new MS drugs be better researched?

How can we predict which patients will benefit from a particular treatment?


  1. Murray TJ. (2006). Diagnosis and treatment of multiple sclerosis. BMJ, 322 (7540):525-527.

  2. Multiple Sclerosis International Federation. (2013). Atlas of MS 2013. Available at:

  3. Multiple Sclerosis International Federation. What is MS? Available at

  4. Simpson S, et al. (2011) Latitude is significantly associated with the prevalence of multiple sclerosis: a meta-analysis. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry, 82(10):1132-1141.

  5. Schweizerische Multiple Sklerose Gesellschaft. (2022). Über MS. Available at

  6. National Institutes of Health-National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. (2015). Multiple Sclerosis: Hope Through Research. Available at: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/ multiple_sclerosis/detail_multiple_sclerosis.htm.

  7. Hemmett L, et al. (2004) What drives quality of life in multiple sclerosis? QJM, 97(10):671–6. 7.

  8. Souza A, et al. (2010) Multiple sclerosis and mobility-related assistive technology: systematic review of the literature. J Rehabil Res Dev, 47:213–223.

  9. National Multiple Sclerosis Society. (2010). Gait or Walking Problems. Available at: http://www.nationalmssociety.org/NationalMSSociety/media/MSNationalFiles/ Brochures/Brochure-Gait-or-Walking-Problems.pdf.

  10. United States Department of Veterans Affairs. Visual Dysfunction in Multiple Sclerosis. Available at: http://www.va.gov/MS/Veterans/symptom_management/Visual_Dysfunction_in_Multiple_ Sclerosis.asp.

  11. National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Bladder Problems. Available at:

  12. Siegert RJ, Abernethy DA. (2005). Depression in multiple sclerosis: a review. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry, 76:469–475.

  13. Lobentanz IS, et al. (2004). Factors influencing quality of life in multiple sclerosis patients: Disability, depressive mood, fatigue and sleep quality. Acta Neurologica Scandinavica, 110:6–13.

  14. Brex PA, et al. (2002). A longitudinal study of abnormalities on MRI and disability from multiple sclerosis. N Engl J Med, 346(3):158-164.

  15. Multiple Sclerosis International Federation. Types of MS. Available at

  16. Trojano M., et al. (2003) The transition from relapsing–remitting MS to irreversible disability: clinical evaluation. Neurol Sci, 24(Suppl. 5): S268–S270.


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