Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a neurological disease that affects the central nervous system. It can cause a wide variety of symptoms, depending on the type of MS you have. There are four different types of MS-relapsing remitting, primary progressive, secondary progressive and progressive relapsing. We look at the different multiple sclerosis types.
Each type of MS progresses in a different way, and it’s important to know which type you have so you can get an accurate diagnosis and start treatment as soon as possible.
Relapsing-remitting MS is the most common type. It’s characterized by periods of relapse, where you experience new or developing symptoms, followed by periods of remission when your symptoms improve or disappear altogether.
Your Type of Multiple Sclerosis
Primary progressive MS is a less common type that progresses steadily from the beginning, without any periods of remission. Secondary progressive MS is also common, and it starts out as relapsing-remitting MS but eventually becomes a steady progression without any clear relapses.
Progressive relapsing MS is the rarest type. It’s similar to secondary progressive MS, but with occasional relapses along the way.
No two people with MS experience exactly the same symptoms, so it’s important to talk to your doctor if you’re concerned about whether or not you might have this disease. There is no cure for MS yet, but there are treatments available that can help lessen the symptoms and improve your quality of life.
Clinically Isolated Syndrome CIS
Clinically Isolated Syndrome CIS is the first episode of neurologic symptoms caused by inflammation and demyelination of the central nervous system. This means that someone with CIS has experienced their initial episode of neurologic symptoms, but it’s still not clear if they have MS.
Most people with Clinically Isolated Syndrome CIS will go on to develop MS within two years, but it’s important to get an accurate diagnosis so you can start treatment as soon as possible. There is no cure for MS yet, but there are treatments available that can help lessen the symptoms and improve your quality of life.
The 2017 McDonald criteria are the current definition of MS, and it requires two or more episodes of neurologic symptoms that last at least 24 hours to qualify as a diagnosis. So someone with CIS doesn’t meet the criteria for MS unless they go on to experience two more episodes.
However, that’s not to say that someone with CIS can’t have MS. In fact, most people with CIS will go on to develop MS within two years. It’s just that a single episode doesn’t automatically qualify as a diagnosis.
Multiple Sclerosis Types
Based on work done by the National MS Society Advisory Committee, MS can be categorised into four main types.
These are currently the four main types of MS:
- clinically isolated syndrome
- relapsing-remitting MS
- secondary progressive MS
- primary progressive MS
Multiple Sclerosis Forms
There are four forms of MS.
The first, clinically isolated syndrome, is when someone has their first episode of neurological symptoms. Most people with CIS go on to develop MS within two years, but it’s important to get an accurate evaluation so you can start treatment as soon as possible. There is no cure for MS yet, but there are treatments available that can help lessen the symptoms and improve your quality of life.
The second form of MS is relapsing-remitting MS. This type is characterized by periods of relapse, where you experience new or worsening symptoms, followed by periods of remission when your symptoms improve or disappear altogether.
The third form of MS is secondary progressive MS. This type starts out as relapsing-remitting MS but eventually becomes a steady progression without any clear relapses.
The fourth form of MS is primary progressive MS. This type progresses steadily, with worsening symptoms, from the onset, without any instances of remission or recovery.
Relapsing-Remitting MS RRMS
Relapsing-remitting MS RRMS is one of the most common forms of MS, accounting for about 85% of all cases. It’s characterized by periods of relapse, where you experience new or poorer symptoms, followed by instances of remission when your symptoms improve or disappear altogether.
Periods without progression can be seen in patients initially diagnosed with RRMS. When patients with MS are diagnosed following a relapse, the disease is active and sclerosis are forming.
During prolonged times of remission, the person can seem to make a complete recovery. But these spells without relapses only that no new symptoms are detectable. This partial recovery should not be taken as evidence that the disease is not active.
The disease may not be active and the relapses may have subsided but multiple sclerosis is not dormant. Your condition is not worsening but MS can become active again very quickly. RRMS is a volatile time and disease progression can resume quite readily.
Getting a diagnosis of MS can be tricky since there are so many different types of multiple sclerosis. However, the main way to diagnose MS is by looking at the person’s symptoms and ruling out other possible causes.
There are a few different criteria that doctors use to diagnose MS, and the most current criterion is the McDonald criteria. This requires two or more episodes of neuralgic symptoms to qualify as a diagnosis.
The best way for a person to get an accurate prognosis is by talking to their doctor and getting a thorough evaluation.
Secondary Progressive MS SPMS
The development of Secondary Progressive MS can occur in a person who has had RRMS for 10 years or more. An MRI scan is likely to reveal the formation of new lesions in the brain or spinal cord. It is also likely that obvious signs of disability are evidence of more severe brain damage.
If lesions occur only in the spinal cord of patients it is unlikely that cognitive problems will be evident. Although physical disability will be more visible.
Disease Changes with multiple sclerosis types
A diagnosis of Secondary Progressive MS SPMS usually happens after reviewing the progression of the disease over several months. There is no specific test that defines the move from RRMS to SPMS.
Disease exacerbations may still occur in SPMS. But changes in symptoms are much more gradual. And symptoms don’t fully disappear as they might have done in relapsing-emitting stage. And quiet times without progression can offer some respite from the disease disability.
Primary Progressive MS PPMS
MS can be split into four different types- clinically isolated syndrome, relapsing-remitting MS, secondary progressive MS, and primary progressive MS.
Primary progressive MS is the most aggressive type because it always progresses from disease onset without any periods of remission. This makes it difficult for people with PPMS to manage their symptoms and live normal lives. There is no cure for PPMS yet, but there are treatments available that can help lessen the symptoms and improve your quality of life.
The different types of multiple sclerosis all present their own challenges. The more progressive types of MS leave the patient facing a continually worsening set of symptoms. It is no wonder that many MS Patients think that MS Sucks.
How to deal with a recent diagnosis of MS?
If you or a loved one has recently been diagnosed with MS, it’s important to stay positive and get as much information as possible. There are a lot of resources available to help people with MS manage their symptoms and live normal lives. The most important thing is to start treatment as soon as possible so you can slow the progression of the disease.
Learning to recognise new symptoms
One of the most difficult things about living with MS is that the symptoms can be unpredictable.
They can come and go without any warning, and they can vary in intensity from mild to severe. This can make it hard to know when you’re having a relapse and when your symptoms are just fluctuating.
The best way to deal with this is to learn to recognise your own new symptoms. Keep track of when they occur and how long they last. This will help you and your doctor to identify patterns and flares, and it will also help you to know when you need to seek medical attention.
How to recognise when new symptoms are not MS
It can be difficult to know when new symptoms are not caused by MS. However, there are a few ways to help you tell the difference.
First, consider whether the symptoms are consistent with your normal pattern of symptoms. If they’re not, then it’s more likely that they’re caused by something else.
Second, consider how severe the symptoms are. If they’re more severe than your usual symptoms, then it’s likely that they’re caused by something else.
Finally, try to rule out other possible causes of the symptoms. There are many different things that can cause similar symptoms of MS, such as infections, injuries, or even stress. So if you’re not sure whether the symptoms are caused by MS or something else, it’s best to talk to your doctor and get a diagnosis.