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Fatigue and Reduced Leg Function Can Signal Transition to Progressive MS

June 22, 2017

There are many different forms of multiple sclerosis (MS). 80 to 85% of people with MS are initially diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS), which is marked by symptom flare-ups followed by periods of remission. Most people eventually transition to secondary progressive MS. It is not characterized by wide swings in symptoms but rather a slow, steady worsening of the disease. A new study shows that fatigue and limited leg function are more common among older people with progressive MS than in those with relapsing forms of the disease. They are a sign that the disease of a person with relapsing MS is becoming worse by researching the progressive MS stage as well.

Researchers presented the findings at the American Academy of Neurology’s annual meeting in Boston. It was titled, ““Self-Reported Fatigue and Lower Limb Problems Predictive of Conversion to Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis in an Aging Sample of Patients.” The study consisted of 155 patients around 50 years old who had relapsing-remitting MS for at least 15 years. Researchers assessed patients’ symptoms and disability at the start of the study and five years later. Results showed that 30% of the patients developed secondary progressive MS during the five years. Overall, the study demonstrated that MS progression was more prevalent in patients who were older at the start of the study and whose disability was worse when the research began. The researchers hope these insights can translate into more personalized MS treatments.

“Better understanding who is at high risk of getting worse may eventually allow us to tailor more specific treatments to these people,” said Bianca Weinstock-Guttman, the author of the study and a neurology professor at the State University of New York at Buffalo. “With the aging population, this information will be vital as people with MS, their families and policy-makers make decisions about their care.”