is remission a thing?


So, I have “relapsing remitting MS”. Or… is it “relapsing MS”? This one’ll take a while before the community will accept the semantics difference. Let’s explain.

The majority of MS patients (including me) have a variety called RRMS (as I mention above), where relapses of disease activity occasionally pop up. Sometimes things return to baseline, but sometimes some damage and symptoms remain. Obviously, then, the fewer relapses we have, the better off we are, so many of us are on medications which will slow our relapse rate.

Now, consider how “remission” is defined for most diseases: it is a period of 5 years when the disease has been quiet/asymptomatic in the absence of treatment.

While some of us have had a five-year asymptomatic period (I came close, one month shy!!), I was on a disease-modifying medication at the time…

Thus, I, and a few other clinicians, prefer the term “relapsing MS”.

(In contrast — yes, there is a more scary progressive form, where one is in steady decline, called progressive MS.)

How do we all feel about the semantics here?

2 Responses to “is remission a thing?”

  1. 1 Johan

    Part of me doesn’t care what one calls it. What I do care about is the condition I have diagnosed as SPMS. It seems to me there are 3 stages: relapsing, secondary and primary. When I was diagnosed in 2012 with SPMS and my Neurologist told me that this was the natural progression from RRMS I thought to myself, “I don’t have relapses.” But then as I thought about it I did have a few episodes reminiscent of MS exacerbations.

    Today I have no problem believing that something is going on with my body and if my Neurologist can tell by MRI’s and some other tests that my immune system is attacking the myelin sheath surrounding my central nervous system thus causing problems with my body then I don’t really care what he calls it. But call it something he should, SPMS is fine with me.

    I do not think remission is a part of my condition. And I care not to get involved in the semantics of what it is called. Although I do think such a discussion is warranted. And I may even enjoy partaking in such a discussion. But to answer the question, In Search of, I feel not much about the semantics here.

    Thanks for posting.


  2. I was R/R and am now SP. Some with R/R do seem to bounce back, some not so much. From my point of view, any remission at all should not be underestimated. Keep in mind that it is an advantage to stay in the R/R category with your docs as that is where most of the disease modifying drugs are available.

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