Most Common Multiple Sclerosis Treatments

Posted: March 21, 2018 at 2:57 pm

While there is no cure for multiple sclerosis yet, there are plenty of options available that can help treat symptoms, relapses, and the disease itself.

For those most part, those treatments can fall into one of three camps, each with different purposes. Those treatments are medications, corticosteroids, and disease modifying agents.

Let’s look at each a little more closely.

Medications

Medications may be used short term or long term, and for a variety of different reasons. In general, though, most doctors will prescribe medications as part of an effort to minimize the intensity of various symptoms, thereby improving daily function and quality of life. For instance, if MS is resulting in depression for you, a doctor might prescribe antidepressants.

Corticosteroids

Steroids are often prescribed for MS patients as a way of reducing the severity of a flare-up or relapse, and as such, are usually only prescribed over short periods of time, such as a few days up to a few weeks. Prednisone is one of the most commonly prescribed, though there are others as well.

Disease-Modifying Agents

So far the FDA has approved close to a dozen of these drugs, each of which is aimed at slowing the progression of multiple sclerosis. In general they are most often prescribed for patients with relapse remitting MS or secondary progressive MS.

Combination Prescriptions

For most MS patients, their treatment plan may include several different prescriptions from more than one of the categories above. Some treatments work better than others, and what works well for one MS patient may not work at all for another. As a result, it can take time to determine a medication plan that makes sense for your individual case.

Medications and steroids have long been part of MS treatment plans; disease-modifying agents are a little newer, but most MS patients are now on them.

Let’s look a little more closely.

DMA Questions

DMAs aren’t always easy to take, can have serious side effects (which means they require far more monitoring and testing than the more established other classes of MS drugs), and can be quite expensive. While some patients get assistance in paying for these drugs, either through drug trials, financial aid, or spectacular insurance, far more MS patients are forced to pay out of pocket.

And some studies are now suggesting that DMAs may not work, as interferons (the active part of DMAs) may not actually reduce MS progression. At this time, the research remains mixed.

So should you take a DMA. Or what medication should you take?

Medication Guidelines

First, keep in mind that you didn’t go to medical school. Your doctors, on the other hand, did. At the same time, it’s your body, and you have every right to be informed about what goes in it as part of your treatment plan.

Toward that end, I have a few tips:

  • Doctors aren’t always right. MS patients should listen to their doctor’s knowledge and expertise, certainly, but they should also have final say as to what goes in their body.
  • You rarely if ever will have to make a treatment decision immediately. Instead, you can take your time in doing your research most of the time, as a delay of a few weeks will rarely make a difference in the overall progression of your MS. Use common sense, but also do your research.
  • Toward that end, research thoroughly. Look at the drug trials information, the contraindications, and more. Carefully evaluate any study you look at.
  • And lastly, know the risks and benefits of any drug you do take. If you’re young especially, consider the long-term risks as well.

There still is no cure for MS, nor is there any magic that it’ll make it disappear. You can, however, manage your treatment and do your homework. You can also take care of yourself by taking your own action, making sure you get plenty of sleep, limit stress, exercise regularly, and eat well. Alternative therapies such as massage or yoga can also help.

No matter what your treatment, though, remember: You are in charge of your MS.

Multiple Sclerosis – An infographic by MS

 

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