The next three types of MS are sometimes lumped together and called Chronic-Progressive (CP) multiple sclerosis. However, more recent categorizations of the disease indicate that these sub-types are really quite distinct and should be considered separately.

Primary-Progressive (PP)

Primary-progressive MS is distinguishable by a pattern of gradual decline from onset, with no distinct recovery. There may be temporary plateaus or minor relief from symptoms.

Secondary-Progressive (SP)
Many MS sufferers start out with a relapsing-remitting course that later develops into primary-progressive MS. In essence, these patients initially exhibit the attack-and-recovery behavior of RR MS, and over time show an absence of distinct recoveries typical of PP MS. Secondary-progressive MS can either create an accumulation of problems that eventually flatten out, or it may produce continued long-term deterioration.

Progressive-Relapsing (PR)

Far less common, this form of MS begins on a progressive path with some temporary relief.

The Outlook

According to Louis J. Rosner, MD and Shelley Ross in their classic book, Multiple Sclerosis: New Hope and Practical Advice for People with MS and their Families, the available statistics show that “the odds are in the patient’s favor.”

The following statistics are derived from this definitive book:

At least 20 percent of people with MS will have a benign course.

About 20 to 30 percent of patients will have a relapsing-remitting course.

Roughly 40 percent of people with MS will begin in a relapsing-remitting pattern that turns progressive. Of this 40 percent, half will have only slight permanent damage. The remaining half will decline over many years into more serious impairments.

Only 10 to 20 percent will have primary progressive MS at onset. These tend to be the patients for whom MS begins much later than the norm. Further, only a small percentage of the patients in this category will become severely disabled and bedridden.

Even better, news may reveal that nearly 75 percent of all MS patients remain ambulatory. In addition, new treatments show great promise in significantly slowing the progression of disease.

This advancement in treating MS is enhanced when medications (also known as the ABC drugs) are started early in the course of the disease.

Although medical science cannot predict with certainty how multiple sclerosis will affect any particular individual, the best news of all is that research is continually paving the way for new treatments that can effectively manage the disease until the cure comes along.

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