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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

Current as of: August 4, 2020

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Anne C. Poinier MD - Internal Medicine
Andrew Swan MD, CCFP, FCFP - Family Medicine
Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Barrie J. Hurwitz MD - Neurology
Karin M. Lindholm DO - Neurology

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