Types of Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
The Different Types of Multiple Sclerosis
- Benign Multiple Sclerosis
- Relapsing Remitting Multiple Sclerosis (RRMS)
- Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis (SPMS)
- Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis (PPMS)
- Malignant Multiple Sclerosis (Marburg Variant)
- (Chronic Progressive Multiple Sclerosis)
Benign Multiple Sclerosis is a highly misleading term since it implies that the course and severity of Multiple Sclerosis will be slight. While this may initially be true, over time this form of the disease can often be as disabling as any other; indeed of the 20% of patients who are initially diagnosed with Benign Multiple Sclerosis, only around 5% actually fall into this category.
A patient who has benign multiple sclerosis can expect to show little or no progression after the initial attack. Generally, they remain fully functional although they can experience cognitive dysfunction, short-term memory problems and upon MRI examination, may also show clear clinical evidence of brain or spinal cord atrophy.
Relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis (rrms) is the most common form of the disease. The title can also be misleading.
During this form of the disease, patients tend to experience an attack or series of attacks (exacerbations) followed by complete or partial remission. This is where the title, relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis (rrms), can prove misleading.
Patients often assume that the remission stage of the disease will mean 100% recovery. While this can be true, particularly during the early stages of the disease, often the remission will only be a partial one, particularly as the disease progresses, thus leaving the patient with residual, usually permanent, symptoms.
Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis (spms) begins with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis (rrms).
The relapsing remitting (rrms) stage of the disease may persist for many years before the onset of secondary progressive ms.
Secondary progressive multiple sclerosis is a second-stage, chronic, progressive form of the disease where, unlike the relapsing remitting (rrms) stage, there are no real periods of remission, only breaks in attack duration with no real recovery from symptoms although there may be minor relief from some.
Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis (PPMS) is most commonly found in men.
It is characterized by gradual clinical decline with no real or distinct periods of remission. There may be temporary periods where the disease appears to plateau, or level out, and this may include some partial, yet minor, relief from some symptoms, however the course of the disease is one of continual decline from the outset.
Progressive Relapsing Multiple Sclerosis (PRMS) is a rarer form of multiple sclerosis where the disease takes a progressive form from the outset with acute attacks throughout and no relief from accumulated symptoms.
Unlike Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis, Progressive Relapsing MS does not 'plateau'.
Malignant Multiple Sclerosis (Marburg Variant)
Malignant Multiple Sclerosis, also known as Marburg Variant Multiple Sclerosis, is a particularly aggressive form of the disease. Thankfully very rare, this highly aggressive form is defined by its swift and relentless decline to significant disability or even death, often within a few weeks or months after the onset of the initial attack.
Chronic Progressive Multiple Sclerosis is included here for information purposes.
Chronic Progressive MS is not a definite type of Multiple Sclerosis but rather a term sometimes used by physicians to lump together the forms; Secondary Progressive MS, Primary Progressive MS or Progressive Relapsing MS.