Why symptom tracking matters

People with multiple sclerosis (MS) do not always report their relapses despite the domino effect on their health, financial security and support networks.1 This was most recently confirmed in a UK study published in 2013, which revealed that 46% of respondents experienced a relapse but did not report it, despite considerable impact on their day-to-day lives.1

To better understand how relapse management could be improved, Novartis held a series of focus groups with people with MS and MS healthcare professionals (HCPs).

Some of the key findings from this research are outlined below.

SymTrac MS app screenshots

Perspective of people with MS

People with MS do not always report changing symptoms to their HCP for various reasons2:

  • Considering their symptoms too mild or not wanting to bother their MS nurse
  • Belief that HCPs can't do anything to help
  • Frustration by mismanagement between primary and secondary care

Others find that their symptoms fluctuate and it can be difficult to know when they are experiencing a relapse and when it is just ‘part and parcel’ of their MS. It can also be difficult to make the most of vital consultation time and accurately recall symptoms and general wellbeing as it can often be 12 months since their last appointment.

Ms Patient

Clinical perspective

There is growing clinical opinion that all relapses, no matter how mild, indicate ongoing disease activity and merit discussion and action.3

Neurologists and MS specialist nurses need to have a clear picture of whether or not patients are having relapses, as it is an important factor when assessing whether patients need treatment or perhaps a change in treatment. Due to improved reporting, the significance of relapses can be brought into clinical decision-making.

SymTrac MS app screenshots

SymTrac™ for MS

A symptom tracker is available to help you record your relapse symptoms and discuss them with your MS team.

SymTrac has been developed by Novartis in collaboration with healthcare professionals.

learn more about the app


1. Duddy M, Pulfer A, Oswald L. A UK-based study of the impact of relapse in people with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) early in the course of first disease modifying therapy. Poster presented at ECTRIMS (Congress of the European Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis) 2013. Multiple Sclerosis Journal. 2013;19(11 Suppl):P590.
2. Duddy M, Pulfer A, Oswald L. A UK-based study of the impact of relapse on clinical decision making early in the course of first-line disease modifying therapy. Multiple Sclerosis Journal. 2013;19(11 Suppl):1035.
3. Hutchinson M. There is no such thing as a mild MS relapse. The mild relapse is an Anglo-Saxon delusion – commentary. Multiple Sclerosis Journal. 2012:18(7):930–931.

Date of preparation: November 2015    MUL15-C020d

: 13-10-2015