Treating specific symptoms can be effective, even if it doesn't stop the progression of the disease. Symptoms that can often be controlled or relieved with medicine include:
Medicines can also help with sexual problems, emotional problems, and walking problems. Sildenafil (Viagra) can help with sexual problems in both men and women. Clomipramine may also be given to improve erectile dysfunction. Dextromethorphan and quinidine (Nuedexta) is a medicine that can be used for uncontrollable outbursts of crying or laughing at strange or inappropriate times. Dalfampridine (Ampyra) is a medicine that can be used to help with walking problems.
Medicine may be used only some of the time or regularly, depending on how severe or constant a certain symptom is. Changes in diet, schedule, exercise, and other habits can also help manage some of these symptoms. See Home Treatment.
Cannabinoids are substances found in marijuana. Similar drugs can be created in a lab. Some forms of natural and man-made cannabinoids may help with symptoms such as pain and spasticity. They are not available in all areas. Talk to your doctor if you are considering cannabinoids.
Medicines being studied
A variety of other medicines and biological chemicals have been tried or are being studied as therapy for MS. None of them have been clearly proved as beneficial, and none have been approved for treatment of MS.
Several medicines are being tested in clinical trials. People with MS who have not responded to standard therapy sometimes choose to take part in these trials. To learn more about clinical trials, talk to your doctor or contact the National Multiple Sclerosis Society at www.nationalmssociety.org.
Deciding about disease-modifying therapy
The National Multiple Sclerosis Society recommends that people with a definite diagnosis of MS and active, relapsing disease start treatment with interferon beta or glatiramer. Most neurologists support this recommendation and now agree that permanent damage to the nervous system may occur early on, even while symptoms are still quite mild. Early treatment may help prevent or delay some of this damage. In general, treatment is recommended until it no longer provides a clear benefit.