Patients usually experience a first neurologic event suggestive of MS known as Clinically Isolated Syndrome (CIS). It lasts for at least 24 hours, with symptoms and signs indicating either a single lesion (monofocal) or more than one lesion (multifocal) within the central nervous system.1

There are 4 types of MS. They're named according to the way the disease acts on the body over time.2

The 4 Types of MS

  • Relapsing-Remitting MS (RRMS). This is the most common form of multiple sclerosis. About 85% of people with MS are initially diagnosed with RRMS. People with RRMS have temporary periods called relapses, flare-ups or exacerbations, when new symptoms appear2
  • Secondary-Progressive MS (SPMS). In SPMS, symptoms worsen more steadily over time, with or without the occurrence of relapses and remissions. Most people who are diagnosed with RRMS will transition to SPMS at some point3
  • Primary-Progressive MS (PPMS). This type of MS is not very common, occurring in about 10% of people with MS. PPMS is characterized by slowly worsening symptoms from the beginning, with no relapses or remissions2
  • Progressive-Relapsing MS (PRMS). A rare form of MS (5%), PRMS is characterized by a steadily worsening disease state from the beginning, with acute relapses but no remissions, with or without recovery2

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The Importance of Early Treatment

If you are diagnosed with MS or a first-time MS event, you should consider talking about starting treatment as soon as possible with your healthcare team. Researchers have found that MS often causes more damage in the first year than in later years.4

Learn more about the symptoms and diagnosis of MS.

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MS Treatment Options5

There are various MS treatment options available today that have been shown to decrease the frequency of relapses and to delay disease progression. There are several ways that these treatment options can be taken. Some treatments use an injection—either subcutaneous (under the skin) or intramuscular (into the muscle)—while others are given intravenously (via an infusion) or orally (by mouth).

  • Beta interferons are injectable medications used for the treatment of relapsing-remitting MS. Certain beta interferon products also may be used for a first clinical episode with MRI findings consistent with MS. Depending on the medication, injections for beta interferons can be either subcutaneous or intramuscular and dosing can vary from every other day to once a week
  • Glatiramer acetate is given by subcutaneous injection every day for the treatment of relapsing-remitting MS. It is also used for patients who have experienced a first clinical episode and have MRI findings consistent with MS
  • Fingolimod is a once-daily oral capsule indicated for the treatment of relapsing forms of MS to reduce the frequency of clinical exacerbations and to delay the accumulation of physical disability
  • Teriflunomide is a once-daily oral tablet used for the treatment of patients with relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis
  • Dimethyl fumarate is an oral capsule taken twice a day that is used to treat people with relapsing forms of MS
  • Mitoxantrone is a chemotherapeutic agent for the treatment of worsening relapsing-remitting MS, progressive-relapsing MS or secondary-progressive MS, and is used to reduce neurologic disability and/or the frequency of clinical exacerbations. It is administered intravenously by an infusion once every three months
  • Natalizumab is an intravenous medication reserved for patients with rapidly progressing MS or with high disease activity despite the use of an alternate MS therapy. It is administered once every four weeks

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References:
  1. Kappos L, Polman CH. Freedman MS, et al. Treatment with interferon beta-1b delays conversion to clinically definite and McDonald MS in patients with clinically isolated syndromes. Neurology. 2006; 67: 1242-1249.
  2. Hooper K. Managing Progressive MS. New York, NY: National Multiple Sclerosis Society; 2011.
  3. Multiple Sclerosis: Just the Facts New York, NY; National Multiple Sclerosis Society;2011.
  4. Kuhlmann T, Lingfield G, Bitsch A, Schuchardt J, Bruck W. Acute axonal damage in multiple sclerosis is most extensive in early disease stages and decreases over time. Brain. 2002;125:2202-2212.
  5. National Multiple Sclerosis Society. The MS Disease - Modifying Medications. New York, NY: National Multiple Sclerosis Society; 2012.

A Peer's Perspective

Brett, husband, father, and professional golfer who has been living with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis since 1995.

Check out Brett's blog,
A Peer's Perspective.

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