The outcome is variable and unpredictable. Although the disorder is chronic and incurable, life expectancy can be normal or nearly so. Most people with MS continue to walk and function at work with minimal disability for 20 or more years.
The factors felt to best predict a relatively benign course are female gender, young age at onset (less than 30 years), infrequent attacks, a relapsing-remitting pattern, and low burden of disease on imaging studies.
The amount of disability and discomfort varies with the severity and frequency of attacks and the part of the central nervous system affected by each attack. Commonly, there is initially a return to normal or near-normal function between attacks. As the disorder progresses, there is progressive loss of function with less improvement between attacks.