There are four types of multiple sclerosis. For a long time I didn’t know the difference, all I knew was that I was diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS. While many of the symptoms for the different types of MS are similar, there are certain characteristics that set the four types of multiple sclerosis apart.
Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis. This is what I have and chances are you do too because 85% of people are diagnosed with this type of MS.
“Relapsing-Remitting MS is defined by inflammatory attacks on the myelin which insulates the nerve fibers of the central nervous system. During theses attacks activated immune cells create local areas of damage thus producing MS symptoms.”
For me the worst symptoms are pain, spasticity, the dreaded MS hug, some cognition issues, and fatigue. I’m currently taking Tysabri infusions monthly and thus far have no new lesions. The lesions I do have are both in my brain and my spine. Some will have it in both or one or the other.
With RRMS you will most likely have more lesions than with other types of MS. Women are 2 to 3 times more likely to be diagnosed with RRMS than men. Which means I’m one of the unlucky dudes I guess. RRMS is typically diagnosed while people are in their twenties or thirties, I was 35. Though it can also occur in children and in later adulthood.
Secondary-Progressive Multiple Sclerosis. This type of MS is characterized by symptoms that will steadily worsen over time. It can be with or without relapses and remissions. It can be the diagnosis that people with relapsing-remitting MS will transition too. Hopefully sticking with your treatments will help to stave off this diagnosis.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, “The progression that patients with secondary progressive MS experience is not because their MS immune activity increases as compared with an earlier time in their disease. In fact, their MRI scans often do not seem to show much new activity at all. One theory for their progression is that the nerve fibers that were injured earlier in their MS are now disappearing, sometimes years after the initial injury. Thus, the progression is not really because of new immune disease, but an after-effect of injury occurring perhaps years before.”
Prior to the use of the approved disease-modifying therapies, studies showed that 50% of those diagnosed with RRMS would transition to SPMS within 10 years, and 90% would transition within 25 years. Researching this stat made me sad and I had to take a break from writing this article.
Primary-Progressive Multiple Sclerosis. This less common type of MS only appears in about 10% of people with the chronic disease. With PPMS symptoms slowly worsen from the start with no relapses or remissions. People with PPMS will typically have less lesions than those with RRMS and SPMS and those lesions are more likely to be found on the spinal cord than the brain.
Progressive-Relapsing Multiple Sclerosis. This is the rarest form of MS which only occurs in 5% of people with the disease. PRMS is described as steadily worsening disease state from the start. You could experience acute relapses but no remissions with or without recovery. People with PRMS are usually initially diagnosed with PPMS because the symptoms are similar.
The National MS Society writes, “The doctor makes a diagnosis of progressive-relapsing MS (PRMS) when a person who has experienced progressive neurologic functioning from the outset begins to experience inflammatory relapses“
What type of multiple sclerosis do you have?
Patrick is a Chicago born comedian and blogger. He is in school to be a teacher and enjoys playing ukulele and listening to music in his spare time. He uses humor to deal with adversity. He is where tragedy meets comedy and comedy always wins.