The following are some of the treatments of MS that focus on slowing the progression of the disease, speeding recovery from attacks, and managing symptoms.
Treatments for MS Attacks
- Corticosteroids: Corticosteroids such as intravenous methylprednisolone and oral prednisone, are prescribed to reduce inflammation of the nerves. Some of the common side effects of these medications may include increased blood pressure, insomnia, fluid retention and mood swings.
- Plasma exchange (plasmapheresis): In this treatment, your blood plasma is removed and separated from your blood cells. The blood cells are then mixed with a protein solution called albumin and put back into your body. This type of treatment may be used if your symptoms are severe, new and haven't got relief from steroids.
Treatments to Modify Progression
While no therapies are available yet that have shown benefits for slowing the progression of primary-progressive MS, several disease-modifying therapies are available for relapsing-remitting MS.
Treatment options for relapsing-remitting MS include:
Beta interferons: These medications are injected directly into the skin or into muscle to reduce the frequency and severity of relapses. Some of the common side effects of beta interferons may include injection-site reactions and flu-like symptoms. Liver damage is also a possible side effect of interferon use, so you need blood tests to monitor your liver enzymes.
Glatiramer acetate (Copaxone): This medication is also injected beneath the skin and is known to help block your immune system's attack on myelin. Some of the common side effects may include injection-site skin irritation.
Dimethyl fumarate (Tecfidera): This medication taken orally twice-daily can reduce relapses. Side effects may include diarrhea, nausea, flushing, and lowered white blood cell count.
Fingolimod (Gilenya): This medication taken orally once-daily reduces relapse rate. However, you'll need to have your heart rate monitored for six hours after the first dose because it may be slowed. Other common side effects include high blood pressure, headache, and blurred vision.
Teriflunomide (Aubagio): This medication taken orally once-daily can reduce relapse rate. Its common side effects include hair loss, liver damage, and other side effects. It must not be consumed by a pregnant woman as it is harmful to a developing fetus.
Treatments for MS signs and symptoms
- Physical therapy: A physical therapist teaches a person having MS stretching and strengthening exercises. It also shows them how to use devices to make it easier for a person to perform daily tasks. Physical therapy along with the use of a mobility aid can also help manage leg weakness and other walk problems associated with MS.
- Muscle relaxants: Muscle relaxants such as baclofen (Lioresal) and tizanidine (Zanaflex) may relieve painful or uncontrollable muscle stiffness or spasms in legs, which is a common symptom of MS.
- Medications to reduce fatigue: Other medications may also be prescribed to relieve signs and symptoms such as pain, depression, sexual dysfunction, and bowel or bladder problems that are associated with MS.
Many people with MS, apart from prescribed medications and treatments, also use a variety of alternative treatments to help manage their symptoms, such as muscle pain and fatigue.
Traditional treatment methodologies such as acupuncture and activities such as exercise, yoga, massage, meditation, eating a healthier diet, and relaxation techniques may help boost overall mental and physical well-being of a person. However, there are few studies to back up their use and effectiveness in managing MS symptoms.