Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis (SPMS)

What is Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis (SPMS)?

Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis (SPMS) is a progressive form of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) that is characterized by the slow but steady deterioration of symptoms over time. During periods of relapse, patients may experience transient improvement or worsening. SPMS may follow Relapsing Remitting MS (RRMS) or Primary Progressive MS (PPMS) and is often less responsive to disease-modifying drugs (DMDs).

Causes of Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis (SPMS)

It’s unclear what causes SPMS, but scientists believe that factors such as long-term damage to nerve cells, inflammation, and the presence of abnormal antibodies may play a role.

Symptoms of Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis (SPMS)

SPMS affects individuals differently and the symptoms vary depending on the areas of the nervous system that are affected. Some common symptoms of SPMS include:

  • Fatigue
  • Bladder/bowel problems
  • Dizziness/balance problems
  • Muscle weakness/stiffness
  • Cognitive problems (thought processes)
  • Depression/anxiety
  • Pain

Diagnosis of Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis (SPMS)

Due to the slow progression of SPMS, diagnosis is often delayed until several years after the onset of the condition. A physical and neurological examination may be carried out to assess the severity of the symptoms. Imaging tests such as an MRI may show areas of inflammation and/or scarring that can help confirm the diagnosis. A lumbar puncture (also known as a spinal tap) may be carried out to look at the cerebrospinal fluid for signs of inflammation.

Treatment of Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis (SPMS)

Treatments for SPMS are aimed at improving function and managing symptoms. Symptom-relieving drugs may be prescribed and therapy may be recommended. Regular exercise, such as walking and swimming, can help improve strength, mobility and balance. Assistive devices such as wheelchairs, walkers, and canes can help to improve mobility. A healthy diet and lifestyle can help manage symptoms and improve quality of life.