I am a 50 yr old female who was diagnosed with Relapsing Remitting MS the month before I turned 50. My initial symptoms that lead to my diagnosis included numbness on the left side of my head, face and mouth, blurred vision in my left eye, complete loss of hearing in my left ear and lack of balance when walking. A brain MRI showed 4-5 lesions. Six weeks after the initial onset of symptoms, as my initial symptoms were subsiding, I began having sporadic numbness in my hands, feet, arms and legs. Most of my initial symptoms are gone now however the sporadic numbness has continued for approximately two months now. My questions are 1) Would the new symptoms that began 6 weeks after the initial symptoms be considered a second occurrence? 2) Given my age at diagnosis is it possible that I may have Primary Progressive MS not Relapsing Remitting MS?
We arbitrarily define a relapse as the development of new or worsening symptoms consistent with inflammatory demyelination lasting for over 24 to 48 hours in the absence of a fever, infection or alternative cause AND during a relapse free period of at least a month. By this later time line criterion, your second set of symptoms would be considered a possible relapse if all other criteria were met, but the sporadic and fleeting nature of the symptoms suggests that perhaps we would not consider these later symptoms a relapse. Regardless of age relapsing forms of MS are usually more common than primary progressive MS. It is just that primary progressive MS becomes increasingly common in older age of onset patients.
Revere (Rip) Kinkel MD
Director of the Multiple Sclerosis Program
Professor of Clinical Neurosciences
University of California San Diego