What are the Different Types of Progressive Multiple Sclerosis?

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  • Written By: Ryan Russell
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 10 October 2019
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Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disorder affecting the central nervous system. A typical individual with multiple sclerosis has symptoms that alternate between getting better and getting worse. These individuals are said to have relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. People whose symptoms get progressively worse overtime without instances of remission are said to have a progressive form of the disease. The three types of progressive multiple sclerosis are primary progressive MS, secondary-progressive MS and progressive-relapsing MS.

Common symptoms of multiple sclerosis include numbness, poor balance, bladder problems, troubles with eyesight and weakness of extremities. Those with primary progressive multiple sclerosis see these symptoms gradually get worse over time. Eventually, it can prevent an affected individual from walking properly and can cause a disruption of normal bodily functions. Primary progressive multiple sclerosis, like other forms of MS, is diagnosed by reviewing the neurological history of a patient, as well as through magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and spinal fluid testing.

Individuals with secondary-progressive multiple sclerosis were initially diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS. Secondary-progressive multiple sclerosis is diagnosed when periods of remission stop and symptoms gradually get worse. This form of MS is more common among men and tends to begin when they are about 40 years old. Individuals whose relapsing form of MS transforms into a progressive form will start to experience more debilitating effects that do not subside.


Progressive-relapsing multiple sclerosis is the third progressive form of MS. It the rarest form of the disease. Progressive-relapsing MS is characterized by a steady worsening of symptoms and an increasingly damaged central nervous system. Individuals with this form of the disease experience periods of relapse in which their symptoms are particularly disabling. These symptoms can become less paralyzing temporarily, but there is no steady period of remission.

There are no approved medications for treating the progressive forms of MS. The treatments available for the non-progressive form of the disease have not proved to be of use for those with progressive types. Exercise and physical therapy, however, can be effective in helping regain a greater level of mobility. Individuals with the disease also are encouraged to maintain a good MS diet. It is recommended that affected individuals lower their intake of saturated fat, sugar, salt and cholesterol.

Living with MS can be a constant struggle for greater physicality. In addition to physical therapy, individuals with the disease often seek out caregivers who can provide acupuncture for MS. Receiving gentle acupuncture treatment can help lead to better muscle spasticity and allow for easier movement. Though these techniques will not stop the disease from progressing, they can provide a degree of much-needed relief from the symptoms.


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