After Diagnosis: Treatment for Multiple Sclerosis

When the body’s immune system attacks itself and damages the myelin sheath covering the brain and spinal cord’s nerve fibers, a range of symptoms manifest, such as:

  • double vision
  • incoordination
  • dizziness
  • cognitive issues
  • numbness and pain
  • paralysis of the face.

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This is the situation for those who suffer from multiple sclerosis, a mysterious disease with no clear cause. As the illness progresses, many patients eventually face severe disability, either temporarily or permanently.

Many patients, immediately after receiving the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, are asked to make a decision about treatment options. Because there is no cure, the multiple sclerosis treatment guidelines that many specialists adhere to advocate the use of medications to reduce the rate of relapse and to reduce the damage done during an exacerbation. However, some patients combat multiple sclerosis with diet and natural or alternative therapies in an attempt to stay healthy when other treatment may not be possible or desirable.

Doctors give treatment for multiple sclerosis using two types of medication. The first class of medications are called corticosteroids, and they are used during the acute onset and relapse of symptoms. Corticosteroids have been shown to reduce the rate of disability caused by such an attack and to increase the chances of fully recovering from an exacerbation of symptoms.

Disease-modifying drugs are the other class of medication used in the treatment of multiple sclerosis. These drugs have been shown to reduce the rate of relapse by almost 30 percent. However, these drugs are not able to stop the progression of the disease completely.

Examples of disease-modifying drugs are:

  • interferon
  • Gilenya
  • Tecfidera
  • Tysabri.

It should be noted that disease modifying drugs have no demonstrated benefits to those suffering progressive forms of multiple sclerosis. Those with primary progressive or secondary progressive multiple sclerosis are not eligible to take disease-modifying medication.

In the United States, self-maintenance of multiple sclerosis with alternative treatments is something that some individuals try to accomplish after traditional methods have failed to produce results or for personal reasons.

More commonly, alternative treatments are used to complement existing medical treatment. Alternative treatments typically consist of the use of acupuncture and certain forms of exercise, such as Tai Chi and yoga, to improve health and prevent symptoms. These are typically combined in cases of multiple sclerosis with natural treatments such as vitamin D and avoiding certain foods.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. To find out which treatments may or may not work well for you, ask your medical care provider which treatments may work best for you.