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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Diseases and Conditions > Multiple Sclerosis: Treatment & Monitoring
      Category : Health Centers > Brain and Nervous System

Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

What are the treatments for the disease?

Treatment has two main goals. The first is to stop or slow the immune system's attack on the myelin coating of the nerves. The second is to relieve the symptoms and help the person function as normally as possible.

The immune system is treated with medicines. Some of the most commonly used medicines for ongoing treatment of MS are:

  • glatiramer acetate
  • interferon beta 1-a
  • interferon beta 1-b
  • Other treatments include:

  • antidepressant medicines to relieve depression and reduce the risk for suicide
  • high doses of corticosteroids such as methylprednisolone to relieve inflammation during relapses
  • medicines for loss of bladder control, including oxybutynin or tolterodine
  • medicines for muscle spasms, including baclofen, tizanidine, or botulism toxin
  • medicines for nerve pain, such as carbamazepine, diphenylhydantoin, or gabapentin
  • plasmapheresis, or removal of plasma, which is then treated and put back or retransfused into the body
  • A rehabilitation program is important to maintain as much function as possible and prevent complications of disability. Rehabilitation may include physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy.

    What are the side effects of the treatments?

    Side effects vary depending on the medicine used. They may include drowsiness, stomach upset, and allergic reaction to the medicine. Corticosteroids may cause a variety of side effects, particularly when used long term. Water retention, swelling, and increased blood glucose levels can occur.

    The only side effects from rehabilitation therapy are some temporary fatigue and muscle soreness. This is a normal part of a therapy program. It does not mean that the MS is getting worse.

    What happens after treatment for the disease?

    Monitoring and treatment of multiple sclerosis is lifelong. The progression of MS can be slowed quite a bit with the medicines. Treatment of symptoms, including medicines and therapy, can help reduce disability.

    How is the disease monitored?

    Blood tests, including a complete blood count, or CBC, and liver function tests, are used to monitor people who are taking certain medicines. An individual with MS will have regular visits to a primary healthcare provider, as well as various specialists. Any new or worsening symptoms should be reported to the appropriate healthcare provider.

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    Multiple Sclerosis: Prevention & Expectations


    Author: Gerald C. McIntosh, MD
    Reviewer: Eileen McLaughlin, RN, BSN
    Date Reviewed: 08/27/01

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