The majority of people – about 90% – develop relapsing/ remitting multiple sclerosis, a form of MS in which a patient’s symptoms are mostly dormant, but periodically flare. Unfortunately, remitting MS, though it offers patients much-needed relief from symptoms, is simply the disease returning to dormancy.

Relapsing/ remitting multiple sclerosis most commonly develops in people in their early twenties. Long periods of remission can make MS difficult to diagnose, especially if the initial symptoms of the disease are very mild. Patients may feel tingling or numbness, experience moments of dizziness or have occasional problems with balance. As the disease progresses, these symptoms worsen, and may include blurred vision and fatigue; in later stages, patients may suffer paralysis, tremors and loss of bladder control. These symptoms are usually accompanied by pain and inflammation.

For a doctor to make a formal relapsing/ remitting multiple sclerosis prognosis, the patient must show clear evidence of damage to the myelin – the fatty protective covering around the long, fibrous connectors of nerve cells – on at least two distinctly separate occasions. The doctor must also rule out conditions with similar symptoms, usually through MRI scans and tests involving a sample of the fluid from the spinal column.


Relapsing and Remitting Multiple Sclerosis: Data and Theories


Relapsing/ remitting multiple sclerosis symptoms are connected in some way to changes in climate; MS rarely occurs in people living near the equator, and is most common in the northern hemisphere, especially at higher elevations. As MS symptoms flare in response to temperature changes, it has been theorized that colder temperatures partially explain the high concentration of cases in northern latitudes.

Some estimate as many as 500,000 people in the United States have some form of MS. For reasons not entirely understood, it is more common in those of higher socioeconomic class, and is twice as likely to occur in whites as in other ethnic groups. Although progressive MS, the rarer form of the disease wherein symptoms increase steadily without periods of dormancy, occurs in men and women with almost equal frequency, relapsing/ remitting multiple sclerosis is almost twice as likely to develop in women as it is in men.


Relapsing/Remitting Multiple Sclerosis: Treatment Options


There are eight FDA-approved drugs commonly prescribed for MS.  None will cure the disease; at best, they only slow the progression of it. Some block certain parts of the immune process some slow or stop all immune function, and some block antibody attacks on myelin. Most are administered as injections and produce flu-like symptoms, and can cause liver damage and recurring infections. The newest type of medication actually causes the lymph nodes to store destructive autoimmune cells, rather than releasing them to attack myelin around the nerves. Only recently made available to patients with multiple sclerosis (relapsing/ remitting), fingolimod, brand-named Gilenya, is the first drug of this type to receive FDA approval.

Many patients are choosing to supplement drug treatment with alternative care and medicines, as alternative methods, when administered by a knowledgeable professional, offer relief from MS symptoms without unpleasant and debilitating side effects. Alternative care can include everything from herbal medicines and vitamin supplements to physical therapy such as massage and acupuncture. Exercises designed to reduce stress and muscle tension, such as yoga and tai chi, are also very beneficial for MS patients; in addition to strengthening the body, exercise is very beneficial for depression and anxiety, both common problems for people with multiple sclerosis.

Traditional medicine portrays relapsing/ remitting multiple sclerosis as a slow progression through increasingly awful symptoms. While it is true that MS is tricky to manage and may take time to respond to treatment, there are options available that are very effective against MS symptoms and will help the body return to a natural, balanced state. Healthy diet, rest, moderate exercise and medical treatment from various disciplines can make all the difference in terms of health and quality of life. It is important that people with MS do not give in to despair; there are many ways to treat MS, and relief from symptoms and even remittance are possible.