Relapsing Remitting Multiple Sclerosis (RRMS)

Relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) is the most common type of multiple sclerosis (MS). Although all types of MS affect patients differently, RRMS has its own hallmark progression. It is characterized by relapses or exacerbations — clearly defined episodes of new or increasing neurological symptoms — followed by periods of partial or total recovery, or remissions. RRMS symptoms can be further categorized as:

  • Active — Relapses or evidence of new neurological activity in a specific period of time
  • Not active — No relapses and no new neurological activity
  • Worsening — A confirmed increase in disability after a relapse
  • Not worsening — No relapses or worsening of symptoms

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society designated Norton Neuroscience Institute Hussung Family Multiple Sclerosis Center as a Center for Comprehensive MS Care. The designation recognizes our MS center’s commitment to providing exceptional multidisciplinary treatment using a full array of medical, nursing, mental health, rehabilitation and social services.

RRMS Symptoms

RRMS affects nerve fibers and myelin, the protective covering of nerve fibers. The myelin and fibers become inflamed, and the resulting immune response damages the nerves and tissue of the area. The amount and severity of this damage varies from person to person. The early symptoms of RRMS are very similar to those of other forms of MS.

Generally reported symptoms of RRMS include:

  • Vision issues
  • Sensitivity to heat
  • Numbness or tingling, especially in the feet
  • Muscle weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty thinking clearly
  • Depression
  • Needing to urinate urgently or other bowel or bladder issues
  • Trouble with walking, balance and coordination

RRMS is different from other forms of MS because of the pattern of relapses and remissions. RRMS is marked by relapses that last at least 24 hours. During a relapse, symptoms get worse. A relapse will be followed by a remission. During a remission, symptoms partly or completely go away.

RRMS differs significantly from other forms of progressive MS in these ways:

  • People with RRMS tend to develop more new brain lesions — also called plaques or scars — as seen on MRI scans.
  • People with RRMS tend to have more inflammatory lesions seen on MRI (when gadolinium dye is used during the MRI).

Causes and Triggers of RMMS

All forms of MS are autoimmune diseases — that means the body’s natural defense system turns on itself, damaging nerves and tissues. Researchers suspect that MS is triggered by environmental factors in people who already have some risk for developing the disease.

A key part of reducing your risk for a relapse or lessening its severity is maintaining comprehensive annual checkups with your MS specialist.

Triggers for an MS relapse include:

  • Stress
  • Lack of sleep
  • Poor diet
  • Skipping prescribed medications
  • Heat
  • Infections
  • Smoking

What to Expect at the Norton Neuroscience Institute Hussung Family Multiple Sclerosis Center

  • A full range of MS patient support options at the Norton Neuroscience Institute Resource Center in Norton Medical Plaza 2 – St. Matthews includes remote and in-person classes and on-demand patient education videos from your providers.
  • A patient navigator (a nurse) is dedicated to helping you work with your MS treatment team. The patient navigator also can help you with arranging transportation and with insurance approvals, and can provide other assistance to get you the best care possible.
  • We have a social worker, psychologist and a pharmacist dedicated to supporting MS patients.
  • The Hussung Family Multiple Sclerosis Center MS clinic is on the Norton Healthcare – St. Matthews campus, along with an infusion center. Other infusion center locations are in downtown Louisville and on the campus of Norton Brownsboro Hospital.
  • The clinic is recognized as a Center for Comprehensive MS Care by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
  • Medicare, Medicaid, and most major commercial insurance plans are accepted.
  • Book appointments, get alerts when an earlier appointment becomes available, communicate with your medical provider, refill prescriptions and more through your free Norton MyChart account.

Related Stories

MS eye symptoms include double vision, uncontrolled eye movement, eye pain and blurred vision
Does Epstein-Barr virus cause MS?
Symptoms of MS can look like other disorders
Louisville man finds sophisticated and successful cancer care close to home

Schedule an Appointment

Select an appointment date and time from available spots listed below.