Introduction: Understanding Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis
Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis (SPMS) is an advanced form of Multiple Sclerosis (MS). It’s a disease that builds on the initial stage, known as Relapsing-Remitting MS (RRMS). The shift from RRMS to SPMS indicates a significant progression of the disease.
The nature of SPMS varies significantly from RRMS. While RRMS is characterized by intermittent flare-ups of symptoms followed by periods of partial or complete recovery, SPMS doesn’t follow this pattern. Instead, it presents a steady progression of neurological decline over time. What sets it apart is the lack of clear relapses and remissions.
In SPMS, disability gradually worsens. The speed and intensity of this progression vary from person to person. Some individuals may continue to experience occasional relapses, periods of stability, and even temporary minor improvements. However, overall, the trajectory of the disease leans towards an escalation in disability.
Understanding the symptoms of SPMS is crucial, as it allows those affected and their healthcare providers to manage the condition more effectively. Timely identification of symptoms can lead to earlier intervention and possibly slow the disease progression.
This article delves into the symptoms of SPMS. It’s vital to note that these symptoms can vary widely among individuals, as the disease affects everyone differently. This variability can make SPMS challenging to diagnose.
In the next sections, we will discuss the ten common symptoms associated with SPMS, providing a detailed explanation of each. The aim is to equip you with a solid understanding of these symptoms to help manage SPMS effectively.
Symptom 1: Difficulty in Walking
The journey with Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis (SPMS) often begins with a subtle change in walking patterns. Initially, this may be dismissed as a sign of fatigue or ageing, but as time progresses, the difficulty intensifies. The change can be in the form of slower pace, a slight drag of the foot, or even frequent trips and falls.
The root of this challenge lies in the weakening of leg muscles. MS affects the nerves controlling these muscles, leading to reduced strength and stability. This muscle weakness often makes the simplest activities such as climbing stairs or walking short distances an arduous task.
Coupled with muscle weakness, balance issues can further complicate the situation. The inability to maintain stability while standing or moving often leads to staggering or stumbling. Poor balance not only affects mobility but also poses a risk for potential injuries from falls.
Another component contributing to walking difficulties is spasticity. This symptom involves a feeling of tightness or rigidity in the muscles. In SPMS, leg muscles often become stiff, making it difficult to move them freely. This rigidity can alter walking patterns, leading to an awkward or stiff gait.
As walking becomes increasingly challenging, the reliance on assistive devices such as canes, walkers, or wheelchairs often becomes inevitable. The need for these aids can be a significant emotional hurdle, signaling a shift in independence and heralding a new phase in the progression of SPMS. (1)