Multiple Sclerosis Center

MS Treatment

Multiple sclerosis treatment
Today’s treatment for multiple sclerosis (MS) focuses on slowing the progression of the disease. Ideally, treatment should stop or reverse progression of the disease but we’re not there yet. Goals of therapy are threefold:

  1. to improve recovery from attacks
  2. to prevent or lessen the number of relapses
  3. to halt disease progression

At the moment doctors treat MS either with drug therapies, physical and occupational therapies or recommended lifestyle changes. We’ll talk about each of these treatments and then take a look at new experimental therapies that doctors are using to treat MS.

Clinical trials
Your doctors may encourage you to consider taking part in a clinical trial. Clinical trials are an important option for people with all stages of MS which allow scientists to try a range of new treatments for MS. Some of these treatments include:

  • bone marrow transplants
  • deep brain stimulation for pain management
  • the development of an MS vaccine
  • medications to improve the conduction of nerve impulses
  • medications to reverse the damage to myelin
  • plasmapheresis

Keeping healthy life habits and staying connected with friends and family are ways to cope with multiple sclerosis. Some other suggestions that doctors make include

  • eating a health balanced diet with lots of fiber
  • getting enough rest
  • learning relaxation
  • reducing stress
  • regular exercise

Medications aim to reduce the severity of MS symptoms or decrease how often symptoms occur. How does this happen? Via the immune system. Disease-modifying drugs regulate the immune system in a way that appears to correct some of the abnormalities that may be fundamental to MS progression. MS medications can be used on a long-term basis and also to treat specific attacks. Additional medications may be prescribed for other symptoms, such as pain or depression. Some examples of kinds of medicines that doctors prescribe for MS include:

Anti-cancer drugs /chemotherapy – These types of medications weaken the immune system to decrease the symptoms of MS.

Beta interferons - Some MS medications called Beta interferons specifically target the body’s immune system and may decrease the frequency and duration of attacks.

Steroids - Steroids can help decrease the severity of an attack.

Physical and occupational therapies
Because MS may affect a person’s ability to perform activities of daily living, treatment may also include referral to specialists for physical and occupational therapy.

A growing number of therapies are now available that effectively treat some MS symptoms. But research remains to be done. The role of genetic risk factors, and how they can be modified, must be more clearly defined. Environmental triggers, such as viruses or toxins, need to be investigated further. The specific targets of immune attack in the brain and spinal cord, and the subsets of T cells involved in that attack, need to be identified. Knowledge of these aspects of the disease will enable scientists to develop new methods for halting-or reversing and repairing-the destruction of myelin that causes the symptoms of MS.

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