There are 4 main multiple sclerosis types, although others have been previously used. To avoid any confusion, this article will address only the four types of multiple sclerosis widely recognized and diagnosed today.
Relapse/ remitting is the most common of all the multiple sclerosis types. People that have this type usually experience more frequent early attacks, but partially or totally recover after attacks. During relapses new symptoms can occur, and old ones may worsen. These relapses may last from days, weeks, or even months. In early stages of multiple sclerosis, symptoms usually clear up completely during what is called remission. Remission may last for months or possibly even years. As the disease progresses, however, remission will only partial, causing residual and permanent damage. Twice as many women as men are diagnosed with this multiple sclerosis type. Over time this can turn into the secondary progressive type.
Secondary progressive is the second of the multiple sclerosis types. This type frequently suffers from more attacks with less complete recovery. Nerve function gradually deteriorates. People with this type of MS may experience good days and even weeks, but there is no real remission phase. Relief is only minor, and symptoms slowly and steadily become worse.
Primary progressive is the next of the multiple sclerosis types. This type is progressive from the onset and usually does not include a remission. People with this type of MS may still have good days or weeks, but this is typically a leveling off of symptoms and not a decrease in their severity.
Onset is usually in the late thirties or early forties, and men are just as likely to develop this form as women. Early disease activity is usually in the spinal cord instead of the brain, so it is less likely to cause cognitive problems.
Progressive relapsing is the last of the main multiple sclerosis types. This type is rare and very severe. From the beginning this type is progressive with no remission. Symptoms steadily get worse with no real relief, and relapses are common. During these relapses symptoms suddenly worsen which you may or may not recover from.
These are the most commonly recognized multiple sclerosis types, although their classification has changed over the years. There are also other terms used related to these, but they are typically just subsets of the main multiple sclerosis types.
© CG Groth Inc 2007