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Phases of MS

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is classified into 6 types, characterized by the disease's progression.

Most Common
  • Relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS). RRMS is characterized by relapse (attacks of symptom flare-ups) followed by remission (periods of recovery). Symptoms may vary from mild to severe, and relapses and remissions may last for days or months. More than 80 percent of people who have MS begin with relapsing-remitting cycles.
  • Secondary-progressive MS (SPMS). SPMS often develops in people who have relapsing-remitting MS. In SPMS, relapses and partial recoveries occur, but the disability doesn't fade away between cycles. Instead, it progressively worsens until a steady progression of disability replaces the cycles of attacks.
  • Primary-progressive MS (PPMS). PPMS progresses slowly and steadily from its onset. There are no periods of remission and symptoms generally do not decrease in intensity. About 15 percent of people who have MS have PPMS.

Less Common

  • Progressive-relapsing MS (PRMS). In this relatively rare type of MS, people experience both steadily worsening symptoms and attacks during periods of remission.
  • Clinically Isolated Syndrome (CIS). Has been used to describe a first neurologic episode that lasts at least 24 hours, and is caused by inflammation/demyelination in one or more sites in the central nervous system (CNS). Individual may or may not go onto develop MS.
  • Malignant of Fulminant Multiple Sclerosis. Rapidly progressive disease course. (qualifies for the Compassionate Allowances Program at the Social Security Administration)
Not all multiple sclerosis-like diseases are alike

"An antibody appears to make a big difference between multiple sclerosis and other disorders affecting the protective myelin sheath around nerve fibres, report Tohoku University scientists and colleagues in the journal Brain. The finding suggests that some of these 'inflammatory demyelinating diseases' belong to a different category than multiple sclerosis, and should be treated according to their disease mechanism."

Find out more at:

Mayo Clinic