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It is very difficult to predict the course of multiple sclerosis. The type, duration, severity and impact of symptoms will vary from individual to individual. Some people will go for long periods with few or no symptoms whilst others will experience more frequent or persistent problems.

There are some factors that have been shown to suggest how MS may develop. These have been observed in long-term studies and reflect the trend associated with certain symptoms. They do not represent a guide as to how an individual's MS will develop. Multiple sclerosis remains a very unpredictable condition.

Factors that are suggestive of a relatively better disease course are:

  • diagnosed when aged in the 20s or 30s
  • few relapses in the first few years after diagnosis
  • complete recovery from relapses
  • long intervals between relapses
  • symptoms that are sensory in nature (such as numbness or tingling).

References

  • Vukusic S, Confavreux C. Natural history of multiple sclerosis: risk factors and prognostic indicators. Current Opinion in Neurology 2007;20(3):269-274. Summary
  • Confavreux C, et al. Course and prognosis of multiple sclerosis assessed by the computerized data processing of 349 patients. Brain 1980;103(2):281-300. Summary

Last updated: 12 August 2014
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