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What is Benign Multiple Sclerosis?

April 27, 2016

Benign MS has different meanings depending on who you decide to ask. Some neurologists will not even label it a form of MS, much to the dismay of patients that have it. Benign MS is diagnosed when an MS patient’s disabilities won’t accumulate and an MRI doesn’t show increased disease activity. They will experience symptoms, but their disease is not getting any worse.

Even if their symptoms are almost non-existent, patients can’t be diagnosed with benign MS right away, as there is no way of knowing how the disease will progress. It actually takes 10-15 years after a patient’s initial diagnosis to know if a course is benign.

When it comes to symptoms and disease progression, all forms of MS are unpredictable. Symptoms of MS include visual disturbances, numbness, and problems with coordination and balance. Some people start out with mild symptoms that take decades to progress. Mild symptoms early on don’t necessarily mean MS is benign. Symptoms can worsen over time. People who have benign MS have the mildest form of the disease.

There is no cure for any form of MS. Treatment involves symptom management and disease-modifying medications. Newly diagnosed MS patients and those who are diagnosed with benign MS should discuss the pros and cons of disease-modifying drugs with their neurologists.