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What is an Exacerbation?
An exacerbation (also known as a relapse, an attack, or a flareup) is a sudden worsening of an MS symptom or symptoms, or the appearance of new symptoms. It may be mild or may significantly interfere with the individual's daily life. Exacerbations usually last from several days to several weeks, although they may extend into months.

Every exacerbation is unique. Different people can experience very different symptoms during a relapse.

Treating Exacerbations
It is generally accepted that a short course of corticosteroids will cause an exacerbation to be shorter and/or less severe.

Read about National MS Society-sponsored research into optimizing the treatment of relapses

The goal of a rehabilitation program is to restore or maintain functions essential to daily living. Restorative rehabilitation is especially useful immediately after recovery from an exacerbation.

Is It an MS Attack—or Not?

A pseudoexacerbation is a temporary aggravation of MS symptoms, symptoms that have occurred before. The episode comes and goes fairly quickly.

Though the term “pseudoexacerbation” may sound as if it means “fake” or “all in your head”, that's hardly the case. The symptoms are very real and can include muscle weakness, tingling, spasms, and more.


Read more on pseudoexacerbations



  Active Responses to an MS Attack
What do people do to cope and speed their recovery? From steroids to self-help, to life planning, to rehab, to grieving, to "just getting over it", people find that getting better requires both art and science.


webcast icon Webcasts
(transcripts available)
MS Learn Online and NAEC present
The Path Back from an MS Attack

Relapse Management and the Role of Rehabilitation

Benefits of Rehab Program
Getting a Grip on Exacerbations
Understanding Exacerbations
Medical Management

Learn more about these and other webcasts


Dana Snyder-Grant

Dana Snyder-Grant"One night, I wake up and start walking toward the bathroom. I feel intense tingling sensations in my feet as I totter out of the bedroom. I worry that this is another flare-up of multiple sclerosis, the illness that has startled me for the last two years." Read more