photo: man with progressive MS and child in background

Secondary progressive MS

Secondary progressive MS (SPMS) is a stage of MS which comes after relapsing remitting MS for many people. With this type of MS your disability gets steadily worse. You're no longer likely to have relapses, when your symptoms get worse but then get better.

In the past, before DMTs came along, it usually took around 20 years for relapsing MS to change into secondary progressive MS. But thanks to today's MS drugs this is changing:

  • fewer people are likely to go on to secondary progressive MS
  • for those that do, this could take longer to happen

Secondary progressive MS can be hard to diagnose. Before a neurologist will tell you that you've got this kind of MS, they'll look for signs that your MS has been getting steadily worse for six months.

It's possible that, when you're first diagnosed with MS, you could be told you have secondary progressive MS. This is rare but can happen if symptoms of the relapsing remitting phase of your MS weren't diagnosed correctly or were ignored.

Secondary progressive MS is different from primary progressive MS, which is progressive from the beginning.

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