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Multiple Sclerosis (MS) can be thought of as a continuum which people often move along through their life. Around 15% of people living with MS will be diagnosed with Primary Progressive MS (PPMS), the form of the condition where symptoms gradually get worse over time, rather than appearing as sudden relapses. Most people with MS are diagnosed with the Relapse-Remitting form (RRMS), where symptoms flare up (relapse) but then quieten down. This pattern of symptoms may change as time goes on and this may signify a move to the next phase of MS. Some people will, over time, move on to the Secondary Progressive form of MS (SPMS) where relapses become less frequent, but symptoms gradually worsen outside of relapses. Changes are usually gradual but it’s important to spot the signs so that you can flag them to your doctor early, as different types of MS can require different types of care.
Understanding the different phases of MS
Top tips for symptom management
Staying in control of the condition.
SPMS is the phase of MS that follows on from the RRMS phase for many people. In this phase, relapses become less frequent or even disappear completely. This is accompanied by a worsening of symptoms overall, or potentially new symptoms appearing. SPMS is caused by a build-up of damage to your nerves and may mean increased disability, including difficulty walking or increased fatigue. Another key symptom associated with SPMS is increased cognitive problems such as issues with memory or thinking. Monitoring changes and communicating these to a healthcare professional can help you get ahead of MS progression.
Recognizing changes in symptoms, particularly gradual ones, is often easier said than done. The trick is to find the tracking techniques that work best for your loved one, whether that’s keeping a diary or reflecting on symptoms at regular intervals. Then, once your loved one is in the routine, its something they can manage much easier
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