Types of MS
There are several different disease classifications in multiple sclerosis (MS). A course means the way the disease affects the body over time. It can be helpful to understand the differences between them, especially for conversations with your healthcare provider.
Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis (RRMS)
Approximately 85% of people with MS are initially diagnosed with this type. In RRMS, people have clearly defined periods that alternate between remission and relapse.
A relapse is when symptoms worsen or new ones appear for at least 24 hours. If symptoms last for only a few hours, it may be part of MS but not a relapse. These relapses are followed by a long or short period of remission when symptoms partially or completely go away. There is no way to know how long a relapse will last.
Relapses are also called exacerbations, attacks, or flare-ups.Learn about the difference between relapses and pseudo relapses ›
Secondary-Progressive MS (SPMS)
Another type of MS is secondary-progressive MS (SPMS). Some people, following an initial period with RRMS, may develop this type, in which symptoms and disability grow progressively worse. It is less common to have periods of remission/relapse in SPMS.
It is impossible for your healthcare provider to predict if or when an individual with MS will progress to SPMS.
Primary-Progressive MS (PPMS)
This type occurs in about 15% of people living with MS. Typically, people living with PPMS experience a slow but steady worsening of the disease from its onset, with no distinct periods of relapse or remission. The rate of progression varies for people with PPMS and may even include periods of temporary minor improvement.