What are the Four Types of Multiple Sclerosis?

Understanding Multiple Sclerosis Types

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.

Relapsing-Remitting MS (RRMS)

The most common form of multiple sclerosis, RRMS is defined by temporary periods called relapses, flare-ups, or exacerbations, when new symptoms appear.

  • Individuals 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 percent of initial patient diagnoses are relapsing-remitting MS

Primary-Progressive MS (PPMS)

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

  • Individuals 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 percent of individuals diagnosed with MS have primary-progressive MS

Secondary-Progressive MS (SPMS)

SPMS is 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 percent 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 characterized by a steadily worsening disease state from the beginning, with acute relapses but no remissions, with or without recovery.

  • Individuals 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 percent 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