Types of Multiple Sclerosis

Topic Overview

Generally, multiple sclerosis (MS) follows one of four courses:

  • Relapsing-remitting, where you have alternating periods of active disease when symptoms flare up and periods when symptoms fade. This cycle can occur for many years. The disease does not advance during the remissions.
  • Secondary progressive, where you first have a relapsing-remitting course and then symptoms become steadily progressive, with ongoing damage to the central nervous system. Symptoms usually get worse as the disease progresses.
  • Primary progressive is where the disease is progressive from the start, although damage to the central nervous system occurs at different rates in different people. This course of MS is not very common.
  • Progressive relapsing, which is a rare course of MS that causes steady damage when symptoms first appear and where the symptoms are progressive at first and are relapsing later.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Primary Medical Reviewer Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Barrie J. Hurwitz, MD - Neurology
Last Revised February 15, 2012

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