The four stages of MS
1) CLINICALLY ISOLATED SYNDROME (CIS)
This is the first episode of symptoms caused by inflammation and damage to the myelin. Technically, CIS doesn’t meet the criteria for a diagnosis of MS, as it’s an isolated incident with only one area of demyelination responsible for symptoms.
If an MRI shows another episode in the past, a diagnosis of MS can be made.
2) RELAPSING -REMITTING MS (RRMS)
The relapsing-remitting type of MS generally follows a predictable pattern, with periods in which symptoms worsen and then improve. Eventually, it may progress to secondary- progressive MS.
People with RRMS have flare-ups (relapses) of MS. Between the relapses, they have periods of remission. Over a few decades, the course of the condition may change and become more complex.
3) SECONDARY PROGRESSIVE MS (SPMS)
Relapsing-remitting MS can progress into a more aggressive form of the condition. Some of those with the relapsing-remitting form of the condition will go on to develop secondary-progressive MS. This generally happens within 10 years of the first diagnosis.
In secondary-progressive MS, people may still experience relapses. These are then followed by partial recoveries or periods of remission, but the condition doesn’t disappear between cycles. Instead, it steadily worsens.
4) PRIMARY -PROGRESSIVE MS (PPMS)
Approximately 15 percent of people are diagnosed with a relatively uncommon form, called primary-progressive MS.
This form is characterized by slow and steady disease progression with no remission periods. Some people with primary-progressive MS experience occasional plateaus in their symptoms as well as minor improvements in function that tend to be temporary. There are variations in the progression rate over time.