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.