Before being officially diagnosed with MS, patients usually experience a first neurologic event suggestive of MS, defined as Clinically Isolated Syndrome (CIS). It lasts for at least 24 hours with symptoms and signs indicating either a single lesion (monofocal) or more than one lesion (multifocal) within the central nervous system.1

There are four types of multiple sclerosis (MS). They're named according to the way the disease acts on the body over time.2

The Four Types of MS

There are four types of multiple sclerosis (MS), named according to the way the disease acts on the body over time:

  • Relapsing-Remitting MS (RRMS). This is the most common form of multiple sclerosis. About 75% to 85% of people with MS are initially diagnosed with RRMS. People with RRMS have temporary periods called relapses, flare-ups or exacerbations, when new symptoms appear. Relapses typically last a few days or weeks. At other times, the symptoms seem to disappear and this is called a remission; however, MS is still active and can progress. Damage to nerves can still occur even though there are no symptoms.2
  • Secondary-Progressive MS (SPMS). In SPMS symptoms worsen more steadily over time, with or without the occurrence of relapses and remissions. Before disease-modifying therapies became available, historical studies indicated that about 50% of people with RRMS progressed to SPMS approximately 10 years after their first diagnosis. Long-term data are not yet available to determine if treatment significantly delays this transition.2
  • Primary-Progressive MS (PPMS). This type of MS is not very common, occurring in about 10% of people with MS. PPMS is characterized by slowly worsening symptoms from the beginning, with no relapses or remissions.2
  • Progressive-Relapsing MS (PRMS). A rare form of MS (5%), PRMS is characterized by a steadily worsening disease state from the beginning, with acute relapses but no remissions, with or without recovery2

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The Importance of Early Treatment

If you are diagnosed with MS or a first-time MS event, you should consider talking about starting treatment as soon as possible with your healthcare team. Researchers have found that MS often causes more damage in the first year than in years 5-10.3

Learn more about Symptoms & Diagnosis.

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MS Treatment Options

For information on different treatment options please contact your healthcare professional or refer to the information provided by MS societies:

Please find a few examples of links to patient societies/organizations:

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References:
  1. Clinically Isolated Syndrome (CIS). National Multiple Sclerosis Society. http://www.nationalmssociety.org/about-multiple-sclerosis/diagnosing-ms/cis/index.aspx. Accessed April 13, 2010.
  2. What is multiple sclerosis? National Multiple Sclerosis Society. http://www.nationalmssociety.org/about-multiple-sclerosis/what-is-ms/index.aspx. Accessed April 13, 2010.
  3. Kuhlmann T, Lingfeld G, Bitsch A, Schuchardt J, Bruck W. Acute axonal damage in multiple sclerosis is most extensive in early disease stages and decreases over time. Brain 2002; 125:2202-2212.
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