Relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS), the most common course of the disease, shows clearly defined attacks of new or increasing neurological symptoms. These attacks are also called relapses or exacerbations. They are followed by periods of partial or complete recovery, or of remission. Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a condition that can affect the brain and spinal cord and cause a wide range of possible symptoms, such as problems with vision, arm or leg movement, feeling, or balance.
In many cases, it is possible to treat the symptoms. Average life expectancy decreases slightly for people with multiple sclerosis. Multiple sclerosis is one of the most common causes of disability in younger adults. The symptoms of multiple sclerosis vary widely from person to person and can affect any part of the body.
Depending on the type of multiple sclerosis you have, symptoms can come and go in phases or get steadily worse over time (progress). See a GP if you're concerned that you may have signs of multiple sclerosis. The symptoms usually have many other causes, so they are not necessarily a sign of multiple sclerosis. Tell your family doctor about the specific pattern of symptoms you are experiencing.
If they think you may have multiple sclerosis, they'll refer you to a specialist in nervous system conditions (a neurologist), who can suggest tests, such as an MRI, to check the characteristics of multiple sclerosis. Learn more about diagnosing MS Between 8 and 9 out of 10 people with MS are diagnosed with the relapsing-remitting type. A person with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis will have episodes of new or worsening symptoms, known as relapses. The symptoms of a relapse may go away completely, with or without treatment, although some symptoms usually persist and the attacks are repeated over several years.
After many years (usually decades), many people with relapsing-remitting MS develop secondary progressive multiple sclerosis, but not all. In this type of multiple sclerosis, symptoms gradually worsen over time without obvious attacks. Some people continue to have infrequent relapses during this stage. About two-thirds of people with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis will develop secondary progressive multiple sclerosis.
Between 1 and 2 out of 10 people with this condition begin their multiple sclerosis with a gradual worsening of symptoms. In primary progressive multiple sclerosis, symptoms gradually worsen and accumulate over several years, and there are no periods of remission, although people often have periods when their condition seems to stabilize. This happens when something goes wrong with the immune system and mistakenly attacks a healthy part of the body, in this case, the brain or spinal cord of the nervous system. In multiple sclerosis, the immune system attacks the layer that surrounds and protects the nerves, called the myelin sheath.
There is currently no cure for multiple sclerosis, but several treatments can help control the condition and relieve symptoms. The treatment you need will depend on your specific symptoms and difficulties. Disease-modifying therapies can also help delay or reduce the overall worsening of disability in people with a type of MS called relapsing-remitting MS and in some people with types called primary and secondary progressive MS, who have relapses. Unfortunately, there is currently no treatment that can slow the progress of progressive, inactive MS, without relapses or magnetic resonance imaging activity.
Many therapies aimed at treating progressive MS. If you've been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, it's important to take care of your overall health. Read more tips on how living with MS can be a difficult condition to treat, but new treatments over the past 20 years have dramatically improved the quality of life for people with this condition. Multiple sclerosis itself is rarely fatal, but complications can result from severe multiple sclerosis, such as chest or bladder infections or swallowing difficulties.
The average life expectancy of people with multiple sclerosis is 5 to 10 years lower than the average, and this gap seems to be getting smaller. These organizations offer useful tips, publications, news about ongoing research, blogs and chat rooms. They can be very helpful if you, or someone you know, has just been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. There's also the Shift, MS website, an online community for young people affected by MS.
There are three main types of MS: relapsing, primary progressive, and secondary progressive. Even if you have the same type of multiple sclerosis as someone else, you probably don't experience the same symptoms in the same way. In relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS), people have attacks of new and old symptoms, called relapse. About 85% of people with multiple sclerosis receive an RRMS diagnosis.
Taking disease-modifying therapy (DMT) could mean fewer relapses and delay multiple sclerosis. Diagnosing MS may be more difficult in people with unusual symptoms or progressive disease. In these cases, further tests with cerebrospinal fluid analysis, evoked potentials, and additional imaging may be needed. The most common type of MS is relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS).
Approximately 85% of people with MS have RRMS at the time of diagnosis. There is no evidence that cannabis in any other form is effective in controlling other symptoms of MS. In addition to NINDS, other NIH institutes, including the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), fund research on multiple sclerosis. This treatment reduces the relapse rate and the risk of disabling the progression of relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis.
Researchers in the BEAT-MS clinical trial (the best available therapy against autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation for multiple sclerosis) are extracting some immune cells and then injecting some of the person's own blood-producing stem cells to restore the immune system and stop attacking the CNS. NIAID-sponsored scientists are testing an experimental stem cell treatment called autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplant (AHSCT), comparing it to the best biological therapies available for severe forms of relapsing MS. It's not uncommon to experience some “intermittent” symptoms even during remission, such as fatigue or balance problems. Also known as malignant MS or Marburg MS, fulminated MS may require more aggressive treatment compared to other forms of MS.
Intensive treatment with these medications as soon as possible can reduce the rate of relapse, delay the formation of new lesions, and potentially reduce the risk of brain atrophy and accumulation of disability. A stem cell transplant destroys the immune system of a person with multiple sclerosis and then replaces it with healthy, transplanted stem cells. Trigeminal neuralgia (facial pain) is treated with anticonvulsant or antispasmodic drugs or, less commonly, with pain relievers. The most common problem with walking is ataxia, unstable and uncoordinated movements due to damage to areas of the brain that coordinate muscle balance.
MS attacks axons in the central nervous system protected by myelin, which is commonly referred to as white matter. Researchers are still investigating whether this therapy can decrease inflammation in people with multiple sclerosis and help restore the immune system. In addition to the main types of multiple sclerosis, doctors and researchers may use other words to describe it. Vision problems, such as optic neuritis (blurred vision and pain in one eye), are often one of the first signs of multiple sclerosis.