There are different types and phases of Multiple Sclerosis. Changes to MS symptoms can be subtle and over a long period of time, so they may go unnoticed if you aren’t specifically looking out for them. Symptoms (and disability) can sometimes improve or worsen depending on the type of MS. Experiencing fewer relapses can be a sign that your MS is changing and potentially transitioning to the second phase of the disease.
Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis
85% of people with MS are initially diagnosed with the Relapse-Remitting form (RRMS), where symptoms flare up (relapse) but then quieten down. This pattern of symptoms may change as time goes on and this may signify progression to the next phase of MS: SPMS.
What RRMS feels like
Unpredictable but clearly defined relapses
New symptoms appear or existing ones get worse
Between relapses, recovery is complete or nearly complete
Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis
Most people who are diagnosed with RRMS will eventually transition to Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis (SPMS) in which there is a progressive worsening of neurologic function (accumulation of disability) over time. This may lead to other physical, emotional and cognitive symptoms.
What SPMS feels like
Progressive worsening and fewer relapses
Sometimes, there are minor remissions and plateaus
Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis
Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis (PPMS) is characterized by a slow buildup of disability and relapses are not defined. Symptoms may stabilize for some time but there are no remission periods. Approximately 15 per cent of people diagnosed with MS have PPMS. About five per cent of people diagnosed with PPMS experience occasional relapses with steady worsening of the disease over time from the beginning.
What PPMS feels like
No remission periods
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