What is the treatment for MS?
It sounds as though you may be relatively new to MS. The management or treatment of MS can broken up into 6 interrelated categories:
- Education: What you don’t know can hurt you and what you learn can help you tremendously; this site will help you learn and hopefully achieve better outcomes.
- Secondary Prevention: We do not mean preventing MS, although this may be a goal in first degree relatives (siblings and children). Prevention in this sense means avoiding complications and eliminating habits that can make MS worsen more rapidly. Prevention must include cessation of smoking (if you smoke), attaining ideal body weight through dietary adjustments, regular aerobic exercise and strength training and remaining physically, mentally and socially engaged and challenged in life.
- Enhancing recovery from relapses: The standard therapy is corticosteroids and less commonly plasmaphoresis or IV immunoglobulin. Rehabilitation is also an important component.
- Rehabilitation: This refers to strategies designed to enhance recovery of function and allow you to maintain activities that are meaningful to you.
- Symptomatic therapy: Many patients have persistent and annoying symptoms that may interfere with life’s activities. Since disease modifying therapies only prevent new symptoms from emerging (if they work correctly) these persistent symptoms must be managed differently. For instance, heat intolerance may be treated with cooling vests, collars or hats; a foot drop may be treated with a brace or an functional electrical stimulation device such as a WalkAide or Bioness device, burning or stabbing pains may be treated with drugs like gabapentin or Lyrica, spasms may be treated with baclofen and urinary urgency with oxybutynin to name just some examples.
- Disease modifying therapy: This refers to a group of medications ( interferons (Avonex, Betaseron, Extavia, Rebif), Copaxone, Tysabri, Gilenya, Aubagio and Tecfidera) that are approved by the FDA to reduce the risk of disease relapses and hopefully prevent the disease from worsening over time. Other available treatments may have disease modifying effects but are not specifically approved by the FDA; these include Vitamin D3 supplementation and statins. Many more therapies are still in clinical trials or awaiting approval by the FDA.
These categories or steps are not meant to be achieved sequentially although certain steps will come before others. Instead, they are meant to work together to help you achieve the best outcomes possible. They will also change over time so be prepared to continue learning.
It may help you to start by reading two blogs that I wrote in the past for this website The first is called, "Platform therapy for MS" and the second is called "How do you decide on disease modifying therapy". Both can be found on the treatment page for this website CLICK HERE
Good luck and keep asking questions.