Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier
WebMD

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine
WebMD

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion
    WebMD

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community
    WebMD

    Community

    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Multiple Sclerosis Health Center

Font Size
A
A
A

What Are the Side Effects of MS Treatments?

By Amanda MacMillan
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Richard Senelick, MD

You want to find the multiple sclerosis treatment that's right for you, so you’re weighing the benefits and side effects. It starts by getting to know what each MS drug does.

"All of these medications, in one way or another, affect the immune system," says Thomas P. Leist, MD, director of the Jefferson Comprehensive Multiple Sclerosis Center in Philadelphia. "But they are all very different. Some are easier to take than others, some have a more proven safety record, and some are not suitable for certain patients."

Recommended Related to Multiple Sclerosis

What Is Clinically Isolated Syndrome?

When your body attacks your nervous system, it’s often diagnosed as multiple sclerosis. But when it happens just one time, that’s considered clinically isolated syndrome. The two conditions have the same symptoms -- including muscle weakness and problems with balance. But people with MS have had two or more episodes of symptoms. Those with CIS have had only one. Until a few years ago, doctors told people who had one flare that they had “possible MS.” While CIS can develop into multiple sclerosis,...

Read the What Is Clinically Isolated Syndrome? article > >

If you know what to expect, you'll be better prepared to make decisions about your medicines.

Do-It-Yourself Shots

If your doctor prescribes you an injectable MS drug, you'll give yourself shots into a muscle or under your skin. These were the first medications approved for the disease, and they are considered very safe.

You might get flu-like symptoms -- like muscle and joint pain, chills and fever -- for a day or two after each shot, but it's a normal reaction. Your skin may also be red and irritated near your injection.

"It can happen within seconds to minutes, and it can scare patients a little bit," Leist says. "So we warn people that it's likely to happen, and that the best thing to do is to let it pass."

You might be able to curb these symptoms if you start with a low dose, then slowly increase it over time. Follow the instructions carefully, and keep the skin around the injection site clean. You can take an over-the-counter pain medicine, and an anesthetic cream will help with the discomfort and itching.

Interferon is a drug you can inject on your own. It can affect your liver, so you'll need a blood test every few months. Other side effects include mood disorders or changes in a woman's periods. If you’re depressed, your doctor will check to make sure it doesn’t get worse, Leist says.

You can also try glatiramer acetate (Copaxone),which you need to use every day. If you take this drug, there’s a chance you could lose fat around the area of the injection. This creates a dent in your skin, which is not dangerous but can be permanent.

1 | 2 | 3

Today on WebMD

nerve damage
Learn how this disease affects the nervous system.
woman applying lotion
Ideas on how to boost your mood and self-esteem.
 
woman pondering
Get personalized treatment options.
man with hand over eye
Be on the lookout for these symptoms.
 
brain scan
ARTICLE
worried woman
ARTICLE
 
neural fiber
ARTICLE
white blood cells
VIDEO
 
sunlight in hands
ARTICLE
marijuana plant
ARTICLE
 
muscle spasm
ARTICLE
Neuron
ARTICLE