length of relapses

I know that this varies but please can someone help me? I am undiagnosed but had optic neuritis in June which cleared up over the summer. Late Sept I started having spasms pins and needles heat sensitivity burning pain…started on gabapentin which has helped hugely especially with the spasms so I get a good nights sleep my main 2 questions are how long before some of this wears off if it is rrms (I have areas of ‘inflammation’ on spinal mri) and secondly if symptoms do get better do I continue on gabapentin? Thank you so much for your replies I do value this website it keeps me from thinking I am going mad. Sa rah x

Hi Sarah,

Sorry, but as you have said, this varies.  Not only from person to person, but even from relapse to relapse.

I don't think it's possible for anyone to predict how long for you this time.  I don't think even a neuro can predict this.

Technically, relapses can last as little as 24 hours (though I don't think this is very common).  I'm not sure there is a specified upper limit.  I've certainly had one lasting nearly a year.

Having said that, I did notice some improvement well before that, but it was a long time before I was sure I'd recovered as much as I was ever going to.

I have found the recovery is very slow and subtle.  You may not even notice it on a day-to-day basis, but if you compare today with how you were back in September, when it first happened, you may notice there have indeed been some improvements, but so gradual, you didn't notice.

As for whether to continue on drugs after symptoms appear to have subsided, I don't think there's any hard and fast rule.  Obviously, you don't want to be on drugs unnecessarily, so if you feel better, one option would be to try tapering the dose down gradually (with medical supervision), to see if symptoms return.  If they don't, all well and good, and you can probably wean off altogether.  But if it's obvious cutting down was a mistake, and you get all your old symptoms back, then you probably need to stay on it.

I've never tried gabapentin, myself, but I'm on another drug, baclofen, and I now need this permanently, whether I'm having a relapse or not.  If I tried to stop taking it, I would get very stiff and uncomfortable indeed, and in practical terms, would probably be a lot more disabled than I am.

Hope this helps,


Ditto Tina :-)

I've had 24 hour relapses (normally my eyes), but mine tend to be 3-4 months most commonly. April 2010-2011 was either one long relapse or multiple shorter ones - really hard to tell! In the early days I made excellent recoveries. These days I don't, so when I've reduced med doses, I've found I still need them. MS is nothing if not unpredictable!

Karen x



Thankyou both so much for your replies....I guess I want a magic answer really. I havent noticed symptoms getting better except that I dont get spasms and the pins and needles is much better but have put that down to the gabapentin.  Today I had a few cognitive issues which may just be me being daft or down to whatever is going on with me....i put milk in the microwave instead of the porridge saucepan and then stood in the middle of the kitchen wondering where I had put the milk!  then at work today I took a piece of equipment off someone and looked at it as if I had never seen it before ! I couldnt remember how to print out the info from it and in the end had to get the instructions out!!

Oh dear!!!

thanks again both x

sarah xx