MS Lesions and Silent Inflammation

Debi Wilson avatar

by Debi Wilson |

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Multiple sclerosis (MS) consists of more than lesions; it also comprises silent inflammation. Lesions seem to get all the attention, as they are photographed and flashy, and the main topic in MS circles. But silent inflammation is what is running the havoc behind the scenes.

The MS Society of Canada describes on its website the correlation between inflammation and MS lesions: “Lesions form as a result of inflammation, which occurs when white blood cells and fluid build up around blood vessels. This inflammation damages the myelin and axons. Wherever tissue is destroyed, a lesion forms and a gradual build-up of scar tissue occurs.”

Recently, an MRI showed I have no enhanced lesions. I was elated! It had been four years since my last MRI, so no new lesions was great news. But my walking abilities have declined lately, and when I asked my doctor about the changes in my gait, she reminded me of the culprit of silent inflammation.

I am familiar with silent inflammation, and I wrote a column about it last year titled, “Calming the Hidden Beast of Silent Inflammation.” It focused on what inflammation can lead to and how we can minimize its effects with our lifestyle choices.

So, why am I devoting another column to this subject? Because I feel it is that important — not just to those of us with MS, but also to anyone who has a chronic disease now or wants to head off getting one in the future.

Ask questions and share your knowledge of MS in our forums.

Fighting inflammation is about making healthy lifestyle choices such as opting for anti-inflammatory foods, being active, and controlling weight.

In the August 2017 article, “Foods that fight inflammation,” the Harvard School of Public Health’s Dr. Frank Hu offered tips on eating an anti-inflammatory diet. The theory is that if we choose the right foods, we may be able to lower our risk of illness. By choosing the wrong foods, we may speed up the process of inflammatory disease.

Some of the foods to avoid are “sodas and refined carbohydrates, as well as red meat and processed meats,” the article said. It should not come as a surprise that foods known to be unhealthy can also contribute to inflammation and chronic disease.

Another typically unwelcome side effect of eating inflammatory foods for many is that they advance weight gain. Being overweight is another contributing factor to inflammation. Add those two issues to a sedentary lifestyle and it sets the course for illness.

However, not all is gloom and doom. The good news is that you can still change course and reduce your inflammation. The Harvard Health article offers some good anti-inflammatory food choices, including “particular fruits and vegetables such as blueberries, apples, and leafy greens that are high in natural antioxidants and polyphenols—protective compounds found in plants.”

By committing to a healthier lifestyle, you are helping to ward off inflammation and future disease, which most likely will improve your MS symptoms.

Please, join us in the MS forums to discuss this issue!


Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.


Itasara avatar


I was recently diagnosed with silent acid reflux. Avoiding blueberries, tomatoes and other acidic foods play havoc with the lower carbohydrate lifestyle I have followed over many years. Takes away from my consuming those lower carb foods. Is there any solution to this? My MS is quite stable. No major problems since dx 12 yrs ago with major sx of transverse myelitis which left me with numb feeling of toes on both feet.

Debi Wilson avatar

Debi Wilson

Hi Itasara,
Thanks for sharing your story! I'm sorry for your issues, but it sounds like you are doing what you need to do! Best to you, Debi

Terry avatar


My gait has worsened each year, along with hand issues that used to be non-existent 3 years ago. I have brain and C-spine/T-spine MRIs every Spring and no new active lesions have popped up in the past 6 years. I’m thin and try to be as active as possible with the pain/fatigue limitations I have. But after 30 years of dealing with MS, I’m thankful that it’s just the past 8 years where there has been rapid decline. My neuro’s never told me about silent progression. I learned about that years ago on informative sites such as yours.

Debi Wilson avatar

Debi Wilson

Thanks for sharing your story Terry! It sounds like we are in the same boat with progression. You listed some positive things that you are doing to help with inflammation. I am happy there are positive healthy choices we can make to help slow things down a bit! Best to you! Debi



Anti inflammatory diets are a nightmare that just speed along decline. I do far better on a normal diet. On an anti inflammatory diet I am soon too weak and fatigued to exercise. Not so if I'm getting enough meat and carbs.

Debi Wilson avatar

Debi Wilson

Hi Geoffrey,
I understand, protein is definitely needed! Lean meats are a good choice, from what read, if certain foods are known as unhealthy they most likely can cause inflammation.
Thanks for your comments! Debi

Robby avatar


Hi, I was diagnosed with MS in September 2012, after waking up one morning BLIND! Since then, I've utilized my own version of "FASTING" and completely changed my diet. I basically eat 1 time a day, which is late evening, anywhere from 6 to 8pm. For well over 2 years, I've eaten spinach & arugula instead of lettuce. Salads EVERY SINGLE NIGHT! With everything but the kitchen sink,like chicken breast strips, oranges, pinaople, apples, cherries, strawberries, grapes,tons of mixed nuts (at last count, I had over 450 empty cans of mixed nuts for recycling) etc. I've been relapse free as well as 97% SYMPTOM FREE since 2013! If "GUT BACTERIA" plays a role in MS, I've COMPLETELY CHANGED MY OWN! However, eating right is only 1 aspect to maintaining my health. The MAIN ingredient which has kept me well is the Lord Jesus Christ! Try it, and it'll work for you too!!

Debi Wilson avatar

Debi Wilson

Hi Robby,
Excellent, on all counts! It sounds like you have a great routine that is working well!
I totally agree, about prayer that is what keeps me going as well! Thanks for sharing! Debi

Felicia Litwin avatar

Felicia Litwin

Very true! Good for you sir

Nicole Marino avatar

Nicole Marino

So I am in the middle of being diagnosed with MS right now (between appointments, but all signs pointing that way) My question is since this thread is all about diet are those of you commenting also on medication?


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