For people new to multiple sclerosis, whether it be due to a family member being diagnosed or being diagnosed themselves, understanding all of the nuances of the disease can be very difficult. This is because the course of multiple sclerosis can be extraordinarily hard to predict in itself, with each case of the disease represented in wholly different ways depending on the person diagnosed. In this article, we take a look at what the different diagnoses of multiple sclerosis are to give you a better idea of what could potentially be involved.
The major forms of multiple sclerosis
Being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis can be an extraordinarily difficult thing to manage, particularly when you have to navigate understanding the different types of MS during the initial stages of your diagnosis. The most common form of multiple sclerosis is relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis or RRMS. This form of multiple sclerosis involves the sufferer either partially or fully recovering after each relapse. Statistics have determined that between 70 and 75% of people with multiple sclerosis start with relapsing-remitting form of the disease. Then there is secondary progressive, or SPMS, which approximately 50% of people with RRMS will develop after 10 years and 90% of sufferers will develop into 25 years. This is also a relapsing-remitting course, but unlike RRMS it becomes steadily progressive later on. SPMS attacks and partial recoveries will occur on and off. The last form of multiple sclerosis is called primary progressive multiple sclerosis, or PPMS. This form of multiple sclerosis involves a progressive course from onset of symptoms, with these symptoms failing to remit at all in most cases. This is the least common form of multiple sclerosis, with 15% of people with the disease being diagnosed.
More factors to consider for those with multiple sclerosis
Although not necessarily an example of multiple sclerosis, there is also something called Clinically Isolated Syndrome, abbreviated as CIS. This refers to an episode of inflammatory demyelination that may end up becoming multiple sclerosis, but sometimes no further activity occurs to suggest that it will develop any further. It is often difficult to understand the course of multiple sclerosis unless it is very consistently monitored – PPMS requires observation to note that symptoms to not remit before a proper diagnosis is made, and the diagnosis of SPMS will also require the observation of people with RRMS, making the progression of the illness very chaotic in many cases. Regardless of this inconsistency, however, life expectancy in most people with multiple sclerosis is typically found to be 95% of that of a healthy person.
Predicting multiple sclerosis
In terms of predictability, while nothing can be assumed for the future of someone with multiple sclerosis, there can be some generalizations that are made. Some research has found that people with multiple sclerosis who have minimal attacks in their first years after an initial diagnosis will generally have better outcomes in the future, helped by other factors such as relatively long intervals between MS-related attacks, complete recovery from attacks and attacks that mostly sensory in nature. On the other hand, those who demonstrate early physical symptoms such as tremors, walking difficulties, or a lack of adequate recovery after attacks are generally found to develop a more progressive health course of multiple sclerosis.