Prevalence of multiple sclerosis symptoms across lifespan: data from the NARCOMS Registry

Neurodegener Dis Manag. 2015;5(6 Suppl):3-10. doi: 10.2217/nmt.15.55.


The North American Research Committee on Multiple Sclerosis is a voluntary patient registry with more than 38,000 registrants as of 2015. In a recent collaborative project, longitudinal data on patient-perceived impairment in 11 domains commonly affected by multiple sclerosis were examined and tabulated as a function of disease duration. The patterns of disability accumulation differed by domain. Certain symptoms (sensory, fatigue) were particularly prevalent early in the disease. Other symptoms (mobility, hand function, fatigue, bowel/bladder dysfunction, spasticity) were progressively more common with longer disease duration. Some symptoms (vision, cognition, sensory, pain, depression) were relatively common early on in multiple sclerosis, but did not appear to be more frequent with longer disease duration. Ongoing research includes studies of the impact of disease-modifying therapy and symptomatic treatment on patient-perceived impairment over the disease course.

Keywords: NARCOMS; multiple sclerosis; patient registries; patient-reported outcomes; performance scales.

MeSH terms

  • Disability Evaluation
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Multiple Sclerosis / epidemiology*
  • Multiple Sclerosis / physiopathology*
  • Prevalence
  • Registries*
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Severity of Illness Index