Secondary-progressive, or SP Multiple Sclerosis, tends to follow after relapsing-remitting MS. SPMS could occur 10 to 15 years after a diagnosis for RRMS has been given. The symptoms are the same for both forms of MS, but SPMS progresses more steadily than RRMS. Some MS patients with the secondary-progressive form experience relapses, while others don’t. The initial diagnosis of SPMS might take time, because it is difficult to know exactly when RRMS has changed to SPMS. Neurologists tend to think the change from one form of MS to the other takes place when the degree of disability increases over a period of at least 6 months, regardless of any relapses.

Keeping track of the symptoms you have, when they manifest, the date they subside, and making a note of when they increase in severity will help your doctor diagnose your form of MS better. If you were already diagnosed with RRMS, but notice your symptoms to increase in severity without any relief or continue without remission, it might be time to see your doctor for a checkup.

A trying aspect of MS is that symptoms might seem like they are getting worse, when really there are other underlying issues. For instance, fatigue is a common symptom people with MS experience. Difficulty walking can be another symptom, which tends to get worse as MS progresses. However, an overabundance of fatigue can make walking harder and make it seem as if mobility is becoming compromised. Due to this, diagnosing SPMS on symptoms alone isn’t possible.


Treatment and Management of SPMS


Advancements in MS medications have helped to delay the onset of secondary-progressive Multiple Sclerosis. MS patients are able to take disease-modifying treatments and see fantastic results. Before the existence of these meds, between 80 and 90 percent of the population with RRMS was destined to develop SPMS.

Few treatments for SPMS exist, since the progressive forms of MS don’t generally respond to any of the disease-modifying medications currently available. There is also less inflammation with secondary-progressive, which is what the disease-modifying drugs target in other forms of MS. However, a couple of medications are being studied to see if SPMS patients show signs of a lack of progression. Cyclophosphamide and lamotrigine are two examples of drugs being used for SPMS patients.

Managing SP Multiple Sclerosis consists of taking MS medication to alleviate symptoms as much as possible, eating a healthy diet, participating in daily physical activity to maintain strength and flexibility, as well as monitoring progression of symptoms.


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