What is primary progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS)?

Primary-progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS) is a form of multiple sclerosis (MS) characterized by a steady progression of the disease. Many people who suffer from MS experience attacks of their symptoms, but with PPMS, there are no attacks. The disease just steadily gets worse over a long period of time. Some people with PPMS experience periods where the progression may slow down or stop completely, but eventually it will resume.

In the beginning stages of PPMS, most people will be able to go on with their lives unaffected, but as the disease progresses, it isn't uncommon to develop mental health issues like depression, anxiety or mood swings. PPMS may also affect the functioning of your bladder, sexual organs and digestive system.

Like most forms of MS, PPMS tends to result in some type of disability. More often than not, PPMS affects mobility in your legs, but that doesn't necessarily mean you'll lose the ability to walk. Many people are able to manage PPMS with exercise and physical therapy. In the later stages of the disease, you may require the assistance of a cane to walk, and in more severe cases a wheelchair may be necessary as well.

PPMS, like all forms of MS, is not thought to be contagious. While you are more likely to develop the disease if you have family members who have it, being around someone with MS does not put you at risk of contracting the disease. Talk to your doctor about possible risk factors for the disease.

Primary progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS) is a type of MS in which the progression of the level of disability continues at a steady rate without any distinct relapses or remissions. Affecting about 10 percent of the MS population, PPMS differs from other forms of the disease in that the initial disease activity is primarily found in the spinal cord, it is usually diagnosed at a later age, and currently there is no approved treatment to control it.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.