Overview of Multiple Sclerosis Treatment

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Unfortunately there is no cure for MS, but there are treatments that can help people to better live with MS:1

  • Symptomatic treatments: medications to help you manage the symptoms of MS, such as depression, incontinence, and pain2
  • Disease Modifying Therapies (DMTs): these treatments aim to slow the progression of MS so people have fewer flare-ups and less disability over time3

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Important: Each one of the DMTs listed above have specific indications and are not necessarily appropriate for all people with MS. Not all treatments are available in all countries. Your doctor will tell you if you are likely to benefit from treatment and prescribe the one that's best for you.

While symptom management is vital for living well with MS, choosing a DMT is one of the most important decisions that your doctor will make. To help make that decision, your doctor will ask you some important questions that you should be prepared to discuss, such as:

  • What medications are you currently taking for your MS?
  • What medications for MS have you taken in the past?
  • Have you taken an injectable therapy? If so, how did you find that experience?

Everyone experiences MS differently, with each day bringing the potential for a new challenge or experience. Even if you’re already taking treatment for your MS, it’s important to regularly visit your MS doctor or nurse. They can, if need be, adjust your therapy, answer questions, or keep you informed about the latest developments. The checklist below can help you remember the kind of information that will be useful to discuss with your doctor.

  • Symptoms or relapses. It’s important to keep track of your symptoms and any relapses—many people with MS choose to keep a diary or log for this purpose
  • Managing the effects of treatment. Let your healthcare professional know if your MS therapy has troubling side effects, particularly if they keep you from taking your treatment
  • Sticking to treatment. It’s important for you to take your treatment in the way your doctor or nurse has advised you to. But if there have been times when you were just too busy, or plain forgot, don’t feel embarrassed or hide this information—it’s better your doctor or nurse knows as they may be able to help you with practical tips or alternative treatment options
  • Visits to other doctors. Keep a record of all your doctor visits—whether it’s a routine eye examination or an appointment with your GP. Record the outcome of these visits, particularly if you are prescribed any medicines
  • Your level of support. You may be a person who likes to be involved with your MS community, or you may prefer less communication. Whatever your support needs, make sure to let your healthcare professional know if you are struggling to manage your MS and could do with a little help

1. Recognized treatment for MS. International MS Federation Web site. http://www.msif.org/en/about_ms/recognised_treat.html. Accessed on 16 February
2. Treatments. National Multiple Sclerosis Society Web site. http://www.nationalmssociety.org/about-multiple-sclerosis/what-we-know-about-ms/treatments/index.aspx. Accessed on 16 February 2011.
3.  The MS Disease- Modifying Medications. National Multiple Sclerosis Society Web site. http://www.nationalmssociety.org/about-multiple-sclerosis/what-we-know-about-ms/treatments/index.aspx. Accessed on 16 February 2011.