What are the types of multiple sclerosis?

There are different clinical manifestations of multiple sclerosis. During an attack, a person experiences a sudden deterioration in normal physical abilities that may range from mild to severe. This attack, sometimes referred to as an exacerbation of multiple sclerosis, typically lasts more than 24 hours and generally more than a few weeks (rarely more than four weeks).

About 65%-80% of individuals begin with relapsing-remitting (RR) MS, the most common type. In this type, they experience a series of attacks followed by complete or partial disappearance of the symptoms (remission) until another attack occurs (relapse). It may be weeks to decades between relapses.

In primary-progressive (PP) MS, there is a continuous, gradual decline in a person’s physical abilities from the outset rather than relapses. About 10%-20% of individuals begin with PP-MS.

Those beginning with RR-MS can then enter a phase where relapses are rare but more disability accumulates, and are said to have secondary-progressive (SP) MS. About 50% of RR-MS individuals will develop SP-MS within 10 years. Over several decades, most RR-MS persons will experience progression to SP-MS. Progressive-Relapsing (PR) MS is a type of multiple sclerosis characterized by a steady decline in abilities accompanied by sporadic attacks. There are cases of multiple sclerosis that are mild and can be recognized only retrospectively after many years and also rare cases of extremely rapid progression of multiple sclerosis symptoms (sometimes fatal) known as malignant (Marburg variant) multiple sclerosis.


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