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Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Glossary

Terms used to explain Multiple Sclerosis can sometimes be confusing. To help you fully understand the articles and features related to this very important health topic, we have compiled a glossary of terms that can help.

Autonomic Nervous System

autonomic nervous system
Function: noun
: a part of the vertebrate nervous system that innervates smooth and cardiac muscle and glandular tissues and governs involuntary actions (as secretion, vasoconstriction, or peristalsis) and that consists of the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system —called also vegetative nervous system, compare central nervous system peripheral nervous system


Function: abbreviation
carcinoma in situ


Pronunciation: \ˌsē-(ˌ)es-ˈef\

Function: noun
: see: colony-stimulating factor


Pronunciation: \sə-ˈrē-brəm, ˈser-ə-brəm\

Function: noun
pl -brums
or -bra
Pronunciation: \-brə\

1: see: brain 1
2: an enlarged anterior or upper part of the brain; esp: the expanded anterior portion of the brain that in higher mammals overlies the rest of the brain, consists of cerebral hemispheres and connecting structures, and is considered to be the seat of conscious mental processes : see: telencephalon


Pronunciation: \dis-ˈfā-j(ē-)ə\

Function: noun
: difficulty in swallowing


Function: abbreviation
electroencephalogram; electroencephalograph

Flexor Muscle

flexor muscle
Function: noun
: see: flexor

Lumbar Puncture

lumbar puncture
Function: noun
: puncture of the subarachnoid space in the lumbar region of the spinal cord to withdraw cerebrospinal fluid or inject anesthetic drugs —called also spinal tap


Pronunciation: \ˌem-(ˌ)är-ˈī\

Function: noun
: see: magnetic resonance imaging; also: a procedure in which magnetic resonance imaging is used


Function: abbreviation

1 mass spectrometry
2 master of science
3 multiple sclerosis

Myelin Basic Protein

myelin basic protein
Function: noun
: a protein that is a constituent of myelin and is often found in higher than normal amounts in the cerebrospinal fluid of individuals affected with some demyelinating disease (as multiple sclerosis) abbr. MBP


Function: noun

1 a: a localized abnormal patch on a body part or surface and esp. on the skin <psoriatic plaque>
b: a sticky usu. colorless film on teeth that is formed by and harbors bacteria
c: an atherosclerotic lesion
d: a histopathologic lesion of brain tissue that is characteristic of Alzheimer's disease and consists of a dense proteinaceous core composed primarily of beta-amyloid that is often surrounded and infiltrated by a cluster of degenerating axons and dendrites —called also senile plaque
2: a visibly distinct and esp. a clear or opaque area in a bacterial culture produced by damage to or destruction of cells by a virus


Pronunciation: \ˈspaz-əm\

Function: noun

1: an involuntary and abnormal contraction of muscle or muscle fibers or of a hollow organ (as an artery, the colon, or the esophagus) that consists largely of involuntary muscle fibers
2: the state or condition of a muscle or organ affected with spasms <the renal artery went into spasm>

Spinal Tap

spinal tap
Function: noun
: see: lumbar puncture

White Matter

white matter
Function: noun
: neural tissue esp. of the brain and spinal cord that consists largely of myelinated nerve fibers bundled into tracts, has a whitish color, and typically underlies the gray matter

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© 2011 Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. Published under license with Merriam-Webster, Inc.

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Which of these age groups is more likely to experience initial symptoms of multiple sclerosis?