Treatment and progression of MS

Multiple sclerosis is an incurable disease. Treatment therefore focuses on reducing (the length of) debilitating attacks and the resulting disability. Further, it focuses on reducing the signs and symptoms. For these treatments there are various medications available depending on the nature of the attacks and complaints.
Besides medication therapy can also help, such as speech therapy, physiotherapy and occupational therapy. For people who suffer more from the disease in hot weather (Uhthoff’s Phenomenon) it helps to avoid the heat or cool down.

The fact that MS is a progressive disease that cannot be cured yet, makes it very hard on. Mission Summit believes in the importance of more scientific research to beat MS. 

MS disease progression

MS can progress in very different ways for each patient. Therefore, different patterns of progression are distinguished:

  • relapsing remitting (RR);
  • secondary progressive (SP);
  • primary progressive (PP);
  • progressive relapsing (PR).

The most common variant is relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS). About 85% of people diagnosed with MS have this variant. In RRMS episodes of symptoms (in medical jargon relapses) are followed by periods of recovery in which symptoms are reduced or even disappear (the remitting phase). Often RRMS will after a period of time turn into secondary progressive MS. In this second phase, a gradual decline occurs, and there is no interim recovery anymore. Approximately 15% of people with MS suffer from deterioration without intermediate recovery right from the beginning. This is known as primary progressive MS. It is still unknown why RRMS becomes progressive MS. There is also currently no treatment for this progressive form.
In addition, there is progressive relapsing MS, in which attacks are interspersed with periods of recovery. However, with this pattern there is a gradual decline of the patient’s condition. This pattern is a combination of relapsing remitting and progressive MS and occurs in approximately 5% of all people with MS.

Life expectancy in Multiple Sclerosis

MS has a strong influence on the patient’s life. Yet it is rarely a fatal disease. The average life expectancy is relatively little reduced in MS patients. However, the course of the disease varies greatly from patient to patient, causing general patterns to have little predictive value for an individual case. Thus, although a significant proportion of patients still do not need a wheelchair after 20 years, there are also patients who are already totally dependent on help from others after a few years. In most patients, the disease is characterized by periods of improvement and deterioration. A general prognosis can therefore not be given.

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