If you have progressive relapsing multiple sclerosis (PRMS), you’ll have distinctive onsets of symptoms, called relapses. You may or may not completely improve after these flare-ups. Between relapses, the disease proceeds to get worse slowly.
PRMS is the least common kind of multiple sclerosis. It strikes about 5% of people with the condition.
You might not be able to reverse the disease, although there are therapies that can relieve your symptoms and make your relapses less severe and happen less frequently.
Symptoms of Progressive Relapsing MS
No two people are expected to have the same set of MS symptoms in the same way. Some difficulties may come and go or appear once and not again. The way MS affects you are based on which areas of your brain or spinal cord have damage from the disease.
Symptoms of PRMS may include:
- Eye strain and vision difficulties, such as double vision or jumpy vision
- Numbness and tingling
- Sensitivity to heat
- Pain that moves down your spine, like a mild electrical shock, when you bend your neck
- Trouble moving and muscle stiffness
- Sexual problems, like trouble getting, aroused or climaxing
- Bowel or bladder problems
- Weakness and fatigue
- A hard time thinking clearly
- Problems with balance and coordination
A relapse can continue anywhere from 24 hours to several weeks. You may feel new symptoms or have old ones grow worse over time. Unlike other types of MS, you won’t have any remissions or times where you have few or no symptoms.
Inform your physician about any symptoms you’re having a relapse as soon as possible. If you treat it quickly, you might reduce permanent damage and disability.
Treatment With Disease-Modifying Drugs
People with PRMS take medications called disea8 e-modifying drugs (DMDs). These drugs help you have fewer relapses and make your symptoms less severe during these attacks.
DMDs, also described as immunotherapy or disease-modifying therapy (DMT), can slow down the condition. They’re the foundation of treatment for most types of MS.
You take some DMDs through injections, which you can do on your own. These include:
Interferon beta-1a (Avonex)
Glatiramer acetate (Copaxone)
Interferon beta-1b (Betaseron)
For other DMDs, you’ll get it through an IV at a clinic or hospital. These drugs include:
There are three kinds of DMDs that come in pills:
Dimethyl fumarate (Tecfidera)
All of these medications have side effects, some more severe than others. Your physician will want to hold close track of your symptoms while you’re taking them. Together, you’ll consider the risks and benefits of each drug.
Treating Flare-ups By Taking Steroids
You may not require treatment for a mild flare. But for more severe symptoms that make it hard to do day-to-day tasks, steroids can help.
High-Dose, short-term treatment of steroids (in pills or through an IV) helps reduce swelling and makes relapses abbreviated and less severe.
Besides steroids, you can also take other medications to ease specific MS symptoms, such as pain, bladder difficulties, fatigue, or dizziness. Options can include:
- Pain relievers
- Medications to reduce fatigue