A to Z: Explaining 35 of the Most Commonly Used MS Terms


Walking into your doctor’s office can feel like walking into another world. Are they speaking English? Do they understand you? Have they correctly diagnosed your symptoms with the relevant medical terminology? What is extremely personal to you, suddenly feels clinical. Terms like ataxia, diplopia and hemiparesis are flying around. You feel frustrated, confused and worried.

This list of most commonly used MS terms will help push you past these emotions, empowering you to take proactive control of your diagnosis.

MORE: Why multiple sclerosis is so difficult to diagnose. 

Ataxia: A phrase used to describe the inability of your brain to voluntarily coordinate and control your muscles. When experiencing ataxia you may sway, stumble and slump.

Autoimmune disease: MS is a type of autoimmune disease. All autoimmune diseases have the same cause, a perception of the body to see itself as a foreigner. When foreign matter is identified your immune system is activated. Therefore in autoimmune conditions your body attacks itself.

Axon: The part of a nerve that sends electrical impulses or “information” to surrounding tissues.

Babinski sign: An abnormal response to the Plantar reflex which is triggered when a blunt object is stroked down the sole of your foot. The normal response is a curling of your foot. The Babinski sign is the opposite, it’s an upward flexing.

Bell’s Palsy: Facial paralysis.

MORE: The benefits of having a pet when you have multiple sclerosis. 

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