Stages of MS: How to Prevent Disease Progression

Learn about the different types and stages of MS and begin taking the right steps to slow disease progression.

Written by MasterHealth Staff

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The stages of MS (multiple sclerosis) that a person can experience will vary depending on the type of initial MS diagnosis. A diagnosis of relapsing-remitting MS (RR-MS) often alternates between periods of symptoms and no symptoms, while the progressive forms of MS present with more frequently occurring degenerative symptoms.


Progressive forms of MS can either start out immediately, known as primary progressive MS, or after several years following a RR-MS diagnosis, which is then referred to as secondary progressive MS. A rare but more rapid form of MS is fulminant MS.

Clinically isolated syndrome (CIS), while technically not MS, can often be an initial diagnosis that leads to a diagnosis of MS.


Clinically isolated syndrome is diagnosed after the first episode of neurological symptoms, with or without demyelinated lesions in the brain, spine or optic nerve. In order for a diagnosis of MS to be made, new lesions must be present on subsequent MRIs or a spinal tap can be performed to identify the presence of inflammation within the brain and spine.


Clinically isolated syndrome is what many people with MS are first diagnosed with, but not everyone with CIS will be diagnosed with MS. If demyelinated lesions are accompanied by symptoms, the person has a 60-80% chance of receiving an MS diagnosis within several years; however, If the MRI does not show lesions, this chance drops to 20%.

Relapsing remitting MS (RR-MS) involves periods of symptoms (relapses) followed by a symptom-free period (remission). This is the most common type of MS and is often found to progress to secondary progressive MS, most often within a 10-20 year window after the initial diagnosis.

Secondary progressive MS (SP-MS) is believed to eventually occur in 90% of patients diagnosed with relapsing remitting MS. SP-MS is a more progressive form of MS, with an increased number and severity of symptoms.


The signs of progression are often subtle, with an increase or worsening of existing symptoms. This could show up as troubles with vision (i.e blurry or double vision), muscle weakness, incoordination and poor balance. Without action, the disease course can continue to progress and may affect your mobility and motor functions, impacting quality of life.


Secondary progressive MS develops as an advanced stage of RR-MS, and is considered to be irreversible along with primary progressive MS (PP-MS). However, Dr. Terry Wahls has demonstrated that it is possible to reverse disease progression, as she went from being wheelchair-bound with SP-MS to riding her bike to work everyday.


To reduce your risk of developing MS and delay MS progression, diet and lifestyle modifications are the first and best place to start. The Wahls Protocol®, created by Dr. Wahls, is a comprehensive blueprint based on dietary and lifestyle modifications that have been proven to drastically improve symptoms of MS and led to Dr. Wahls’ recovery.


Thousands of others have experienced similar results by making the same lifestyle changes. Learn how The Wahls Protocol® and the Wahls Diet helps you make lifestyle changes as soon as today to start your healing journey.

Primary progressive MS is progressive and neurodegenerative at the onset of symptoms, with many people experiencing neurological impairment as their initial symptom, such as paralysis and immobility.


Primary progressive MS progresses more rapidly than RR-MS and is is less common, with only 15% of people diagnosed with PP-MS.

Living with MS can involve a worsening of existing symptoms and the development of new and more degenerative symptoms. This may include increased vision or hearing impairments, paralysis, cognitive impairments, speech and swallowing difficulties, incontinence, and significant muscle weakness.


In the final stages of MS, there may also be additional conditions that arise secondary to MS, such as osteoarthritis from inactivity or injury, bladder infections from inadequate emptying, and pressure sores from prolonged sitting/laying.

Neurogenesis, the formation of new nerve cells, has long been believed to only occur in developing brains.


However, more recent research has proven this to be inaccurate, demonstrating that nerve cells continue to grow well into adulthood in some regions of the brain, such as the hippocampus, in response to new and challenging activities and experiences.


Remyelination, the formation of new myelin around MS lesions, also continues to take place in the adult brain, and is influenced by a variety of factors, including sleep, nutrition, and exercise.


Learn more on how Remyelination: Myelin Sheath Repair in Demyelinating Disease is possible, and what you can do to support remyelination in your central nervous system.


Dr. Terry Wahls is living proof that the brain, when supported with the right nutrients and lifestyle interventions, is capable of healing and forming new nerve connections to keep you on your feet – literally!


Listen to her story below:

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Dr. Terry Wahls – The Wahls Protocol®

Easily integrate Dr. Terry Wahls' health recommendations into your daily routine, understand why they’re critical for delaying progression of the stages of MS, stay accountable and consistent, and most importantly – achieve your health goals.

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