There are 4 Different Types of MS

Relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS)

The majority of people with MS (approximately 85 per cent) are initially diagnosed with RRMS. The main feature of RRMS is the fluctuation in symptoms. Relapses (also called exacerbations, attacks, flare-ups or episodes) are periods when symptoms get worse and remission is when they improve. Relapses are changes in old symptoms or the appearance of new symptoms which last more than 24 hours. Some relapses resolve quite quickly, while others can take weeks or months to subside. Many relapses will fully resolve, while others may have an impact on your long-term function. Relapses in RRMS are caused by inflammation, which occurs when the immune cells attack myelin. People with MS may also experience changes in their symptoms from day to day but this is not the same as a relapse.

Secondary progressive MS (SPMS)

Over time, most people who have RRMS will find they have fewer relapses. At this time, their disease may be categorised as SPMS. After 25 years a portion of people initially diagnosed with RRMS will be described as having SPMS. Some people with a SPMS pattern of disease will still have relapses, others will not. The main feature of SPMS is a more constant pattern of symptoms. Relapses tend to reduce or disappear but a person’s function generally decreases. For some people the loss in function can be rapid, while for others it can be very gradual.

Primary progressive MS (PPMS)

Some people diagnosed with MS will not experience clearly defined relapses. This is usually described as PPMS. People with PPMS represent about 10 per cent of all those with MS. The main feature of PPMS is a constant pattern of symptoms from the time of diagnosis. There may be periods where symptoms are stable or even improve, but overall loss of function tends to increase. As with SPMS, for some people the loss of function can be rapid, for others it can be very gradual.

Progressive relapsing MS (PRMS)

PRMS is defined as progressive disease from onset, with clear acute relapses (with or without recovery) with periods between relapses characterised by continuing progression. Although the least common of the types, recent clinical trials of progressive MS have provided ample evidence for this form of MS. The behaviour of PRMS is similar to that of SPMS.

For more information visit www.mssociety.org.au