Identifying and Understanding the Types of MS

What are the four types of MS?

There are four types of multiple sclerosis (MS). MS types are named according to the way the disease acts on the body over time. As the disease progresses over time, multiple sclerosis patients may find that their symptoms align with one of the four types of MS.

Relapsing-Remitting MS (RRMS)

The most common type of MS is called RRMS. It is defined by temporary periods called relapses, flare-ups or exacerbations, when new symptoms appear.

  • Individuals with this MS type experience clearly defined attacks of worsening neurologic condition.
  • Relapses, or flare-up attacks, occur followed by partial or complete recovery periods.
  • No disease progression occurs during recovery periods.
  • Close to 85% of initial patient diagnoses are relapsing-remitting MS.

Primary-Progressive MS (PPMS)

PPMS is a type of MS characterized by slowly worsening symptoms from the beginning, with no relapses or remissions.

  • Individuals with this MS type experience slowly worsening neurologic function after the initial diagnosis.
  • There are no distinct relapses or remissions.
  • The rate of progression varies over time with occasional plateaus and improvements.
  • About 10% of individuals diagnosed with MS have primary-progressive MS.

Secondary-Progressive MS (SPMS)

SPMS is a type of MS characterized by symptoms that worsen more steadily over time, with or without the occurrence of relapses and remissions.

  • SPMS tends to develop following initial period of relapsing-remitting MS.
  • The disease develops steadily during the course, with or without flare-ups, remissions or plateaus.
  • Prior to disease-modifying medications, an estimated 50% of individuals with relapse-remitting MS developed secondary-progressive MS within 10 years.
  • Not enough data is available to determine if treatment significantly delays disease progression.

Progression-Relapsing MS (PRMS)

PRMS is a type of MS characterized by a steadily worsening disease state from the beginning, with acute relapses but no remissions, with or without recovery.

  • Individuals with this MS type experience steadily worsening disease after the initial diagnosis.
  • There are clear attacks of worsening neurological function.
  • Individuals may or may not experience some recovery following relapses, but the disease continues to progress.
  • This is a relatively rare type of multiple sclerosis, accounting for only 5% of patient cases.

Learn More from Shepherd Center

At Shepherd Center, multiple sclerosis treatment is specific to the individual’s needs and goals. Submit a request for more information about the MS Institute at Shepherd Center to learn about our MS treatment and services.

Call us directly to get specific information, schedule an appointment, or plan a visit:

Phone: 404-352-2020
Hours: 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. Monday – Friday

New patients may also download a form, complete it and follow the instructions on the form for submitting it to the MS Institute.

Download New Patient Referral Form