The name ‘multiple sclerosis’ describes multiple scars or lesions, as seen on the brain and spinal cord. MS works by causing the patient’s own immune system to attack and destroy myelin, an insulating substance in the body that sheathes axons, which are the fibers the body’s nervous system commands travel through. When the myelin is lost, the brain cannot effectively communicate with the body.
The 4 types of MS
- Relapsing-Remitting MS (RRMS) This is the most common form of multiple sclerosis. About 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.
- Secondary-Progressive MS (SPMS)
In SPMS, symptoms worsen more steadily over time, with or without the occurrence of relapses and remissions. Most people who are diagnosed with RRMS will transition to SPMS at some point.
- 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.
- 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 recovery.