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Types of Multiple Sclerosis

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Types of Multiple Sclerosis

Overview

The course of MS depends on which type you have. Most people who have MS have attacks over many years. An attack is a period of time when there are new symptoms or when old symptoms get worse. An attack can last for days to weeks. Symptoms usually go away (remit) after an attack. Attacks are also called relapses, flares, or exacerbations.

In general, MS follows one of four courses:

  • Relapsing-remitting. Attacks come and go over time. The disease doesn't get worse between attacks.
  • Secondary progressive. The disease follows a relapsing-remitting course at first. Then it gets worse (progresses) over time, even without attacks.
  • Primary progressive. The disease gets worse from the start, with or without attacks.
  • Clinically isolated syndrome (CIS). This is an MS attack in a person not known to have MS. An MRI only shows damage from this attack. There are not old MS lesions on the MRI. These people may or may not go on to have MS.

It's hard to predict how MS will affect you. Some people may function well for a long time. But others may lose the ability to walk or do everyday tasks as the disease gets worse.

Credits

Current as of: May 1, 2023

Author: Healthwise Staff
Clinical Review Board
All Healthwise education is reviewed by a team that includes physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, registered dieticians, and other healthcare professionals.

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