Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis

Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis is one of the four known forms of MS. Also known as PPMS, this form of the debilitating disease is characterized by a gradual progress of the disease without any period of remission or relapse of the disease. A patient with PPMS may experience the symptoms leveling of at some days but does not disappear altogether at any time.

PPMS differs from the other forms of the disease, particularly the Relapsing/Remitting and the Secondary Progressive forms of MS in that the onset typically happens sometime in the late thirties or forties. PPMS initially takes place in a patient’s spinal cord rather than in the brain. PPMS may often migrate into a patient’s brain but it is less likely to do serious damage to the brain unlike the other forms of MS. And because of this, people with PPMS are less likely to develop problems that may be attributed to damage in the brain.

And just like other forms of multiple sclerosis, PPMS also presents its own set of special challenges when diagnosed. It may be very difficult to diagnose a person having PPMS since the disease may not clearly show in MRI findings. Doctors depend on several conditions to take place before PPMS can be considered which takes a variety of different tests taken for at least a year.

During the course of a year of documented tests, doctors may decide on the following conditions to determine if one has PPMS or not:

Worsening of symptoms during the course of the year

People with PPMS start with symptoms that may be mild at first and that gradually becomes serious over time. The symptoms of MS do not seem to relapse at any time during the testing period.

Positive MRI Findings

Doctors should see that MRI scans show some progressive worsening of lesions over time. Depending solely on MRI scans may be very difficult enough for doctors to diagnose PPMS since this form of MS usually form fewer lesions on the brain than Relapsing/Remitting MS.

Positive Lumbar Puncture

In the absence of any conclusive results taken from MRI scans, doctors may decide to take a lumbar puncture. This may help confirm diagnoses of MS and exclude other possibilities.

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