What is Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis?
After some years of relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis, up to two-thirds of people move on to secondary progressive MS (SPMS).
In this typical later stage, a person may notice a gradual worsening of disability despite having fewer or even no relapses. The rate of decline can be slow for some and more rapid for others.
Some people may already be in the SPMS stage by the time they are properly diagnosed. This can be because their previous relapses weren't recognised. As SPMS is difficult to diagnose, your doctor will be looking to see your progression over six months before concluding this is the type of MS you have.
Treatment for Secondary Progressive MS
Thankfully there are ways of managing many MS symptoms. These include drug treatments and lifestyle changes:
✔Exercise to ease fatigue, balance, stiffness and other symptoms.
✔ Support — staying connected will improve your wellbeing
All of these treatments are combined in the OMS 7-Step recovery program.
If a person has SPMS and they are still experience relapses, and it is agreed that the relapses are the main reason the person’s symptoms are progressing, then disease modifying therapies (DMTs) can also be used. DMTs can reduce the number of MS relapses someone has and how serious they are.
Life expectancy for people with MS has risen in the last 25 years and no doubt will keep rising as new research leads to new treatments. Today it is thought a person with MS may live seven fewer years, on average, than someone without MS. But this effect is felt to be reducing over time as treatments develop and understanding of MS improves, and to put in perspective, diabetes is often felt to reduce average life-expectancy by up to 10 years.
Secondary Progressive MS Prognosis
With SPMS the symptoms usually worsen over time or they may have relapses but don’t make a full recovery afterwards (rather than previous relapses and periods of feeling better).
There is hope. Years ago, it would take around 20 years for relapsing MS to become SPMS. However, due to continual advances in medicine and therapies fewer people are likely to go on to SPMS and if they do, it takes much longer.
Even if someone else has SPMS, everyone’s MS is different. But there will be similarities in how you are feeling and the things you have to deal with on a daily basis and so it helps to connect with other people with MS.