"I believe that studying or being aware of the history of MS is important; it may provide important insights into the origins of the disease and important clues to its cause."
Possibly the earliest known description of a case of MS referred to the woman depicted in this woodcut, St. Lidwina of Schiedam. Lidwina lived in Holland in the 14th century and historical texts reveal that she was afflicted with a debilitating disease, sharing many characteristics that we now associate with MS.
St Lidwina’s disease began at the age of 16 after a fall while ice-skating. From that time onwards, she developed walking difficulties, headaches and violent pains in her teeth. By the age of 19, both her legs were paralysed and her vision was disturbed. Over the next 34 years, Lidwina's condition slowly deteriorated. There is no indication that there were periods of remission. Lidwina eventually died at the age of 53. Lidwina's historical symptoms are consistent with those of MS, as is her age of onset, duration and course of disease. If this is correct then MS may date back to the 14th century.
"Why is this important? It is clear that MS was not common in until quite recently (middle to late 19th century), therefore there must be some message hidden in studying historical cases that can point to the environmental causes or triggers of this disease. Something must have emerged in the environment. If only we knew!"
"Interesting or not?"