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MS patients urged to report 'even minor' relapses

Nearly half of patients with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis have experienced a relapse but not reported it to their support network of clinicians, according to a UK study.

Researchers surveyed 103 MS patients from seven treatment centres. They 28% of patients had not reported their most recent relapse while 46% had experienced a relapse that they had not reported.

The main reasons cited for under-reporting by patients were that they considered their symptoms too mild or did not feel there was anything healthcare professionals could do.

The study findings were presented in Copenhagen this week at a meeting of the European Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis and subsequently published in the Multiple Sclerosis Journal.

Lead author Dr Martin Duddy, a consultant neurologist at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary, said: “Even minor relapses have an impact on a patient’s physical and psychological wellbeing, as well as their financial wellbeing.

“We need to have a clear picture of whether or not patients are having relapses, as they have an important role in assessing whether they need treatment and whether that treatment is working.”

Amy Bowen, director of service development at the MS Trust, welcomed the “important study”, adding that it was “crucial” to improve the reporting of relapses.

“No one should be coping with the burden and disruption of a relapse without the support of their MS team, particularly their MS specialist nurse,” she said.

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