Additional Information on MS
Types of Multiple Sclerosis
Learn about the four primary types of multiple sclerosis including Relapsing-Remitting MS, Primary-Progressive MS, Secondary-Progressive MS, and Progressive-Relapsing MS. While the early stages of MS may differ depending on the type of multiple sclerosis an individual may have, the progression of MS symptoms may steadily worsen over time with advanced stages of MS significantly impairing the patient from completing everyday tasks.
Relapsing-Remitting MS (RRMS)
Relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis is the most common MS type , and represents 85% of new MS diagnoses. Patients with this type of MS experience cycles of relapses, which include episodes when multiples sclerosis symptoms worsen as well remission periods when MS symptoms improve. Patients diagnosed with RRMS, experience back-and-forth stages of relapses and remission periods. During this MS stage, a person will notice loss of function, and often develop new symptoms with the progression of their multiple sclerosis. During the relapse stage of RRMS, MS patients experience what are often referred to as “flare-ups,” “exacerbations” or “attacks.” In the MS remission period, these flare-up symptoms may vanish or partially recede with corticosteroid treatments. Corticosteroids are used to shorten the duration of these MS relapses and slow the RRMS progression from becoming Secondary-Progressive MS (SPMS).
Primary-Progressive MS (PPMS)
About 10% of MS patients are diagnosed with primary-progressive multiple sclerosis. With this type of MS, patients experience a slow but steady worsening of MS symptoms as the disease progresses over time. In general, the stages of multiple sclerosis gradually become worse over time. The rate of an individual’s progression of MS varies greatly among people with primary-progressive multiple sclerosis.
Secondary-Progressive MS (SPMS)
Patients with this MS type have a slow but steady worsening of MS symptoms, but no longer have remission periods. The majority of people diagnosed with secondary-progressive multiple sclerosis were also diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS. About 50% of patients originally diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS develop secondary-progressive MS within 10-15 years; however, this course of the disease may be changing with the introduction of disease-modifying medications. The effect of these MS medications on the progression of MS has yet to be observed. The progression of MS varies greatly for each individual; however, symptoms typically steadily worsen over time for patients diagnosed with secondary-progressive multiple sclerosis.
Progressive-Relapsing MS (PRMS)
About 5% of all multiple sclerosis patients are diagnosed with this type of MS. People with progressive-relapsing MS experience a steady worsening of symptoms along with exacerbations increasing the severity of the disease. The progression of PSMS involves the steady worsening of symptoms without the periods of remission found in relapsing-remitting MS.
The above information is a compilation of several external sources such as Wikipedia, Massachusetts General Hospital, and the National MS Society. Please consult your doctor or a multiple sclerosis specialist for more detailed information about the types of multiple sclerosis and their stages of progression.