Identifying Progression

There are different types and phases of Multiple Sclerosis. Changes to MS symptoms can be subtle and over a long period of time, so they may go unnoticed if you aren’t specifically looking out for them. Symptoms (and disability) can sometimes improve or worsen depending on the type of MS. Experiencing fewer relapses can be a sign that your MS is changing and potentially transitioning to the second phase of the disease.


Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis

85% of people with MS are initially diagnosed with the Relapse-Remitting form (RRMS), where symptoms flare up (relapse) but then quieten down. This pattern of symptoms may change as time goes on and this may signify progression to the next phase of MS: SPMS.

What RRMS feels like

Unpredictable but clearly defined relapses

New symptoms appear or existing ones get worse

Between relapses, recovery is complete or nearly complete


Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis

Most people who are diagnosed with RRMS will eventually transition to Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis (SPMS) in which there is a progressive worsening of neurologic function (accumulation of disability) over time. This may lead to other physical, emotional and cognitive symptoms.

What SPMS feels like

Progressive worsening and fewer relapses

Sometimes, there are minor remissions and plateaus


Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis

Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis (PPMS) is characterized by a slow buildup of disability and relapses are not defined. Symptoms may stabilize for some time but there are no remission periods. Approximately 15 per cent of people diagnosed with MS have PPMS. About five per cent of people diagnosed with PPMS experience occasional relapses with steady worsening of the disease over time from the beginning.

What PPMS feels like

Increased disability

No remission periods

Undefined relapses

It’s important to look out for changes in symptoms to be aware of your Multiple Sclerosis.

See MS Symptoms

Help your doctor to track all your symptoms

Track your symptoms by filling out Your MS questionnaire. Show the results to your doctor during your next visit so they can make a plan that’s appropriate for you.

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