multiple sclerosis follows one of four courses:
- Relapsing-remitting, where symptoms may
fade and then recur at random for many years. The disease doesn't advance
during the remissions. Most people who develop MS have a
relapsing-remitting course. In 8 to 9 out of 10 people with this course of MS, the relapsing-remitting phase lasts about 20 years.1
- Secondary progressive, which at first follows a relapsing-remitting course. Later
on, it becomes steadily progressive.
- Primary progressive, where the disease is progressive from the
- Progressive relapsing, where steady
deterioration of nerve function begins when symptoms first appear. Symptoms
appear and disappear, but nerve damage continues. Few people have this course
MS is different for every person. You may go through life with only minor problems. Or you may become seriously disabled. Most people are somewhere in between.
The duration of the disease varies. Most people who get MS
live with it for decades.
Progress of MS
MS usually progresses with a series of
relapses that occur over many years
(relapsing-remitting MS). In many people the first MS attack involves just a
single symptom. It may be weeks, months, or years before you have a relapse.
time goes by, symptoms may linger after each relapse so you lose the ability to
fully recover from the relapse. New symptoms often develop as the disease
damages other areas of the
brain or spinal cord .
Events that can mean you may have a more
severe type of MS include:
- Frequent relapses during the first few years of
- Incomplete recovery between
- Early, lasting motor problems that affect
- Many lesions that show up on an
MRI early in the disease.
Some people have a few
mild attacks from which they recover entirely. This is called benign MS.
Although rare, a small number of people die within several years of the
onset of MS. This is called malignant or fulminant MS.
Because MS may affect your ability to move and walk, it
can place limits on your daily living, particularly as you age. If you or someone in
your family has MS, talk to your doctor about
how MS may affect daily living. Knowing what to expect will help you plan
for the future.
Complications of MS
Complications that may result
from MS include: