Medically Reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian, MD on December 04, 2022

Manage Your Symptoms


There's no cure for multiple sclerosis (MS), but many medicines protect you from nerve damage and slow the advance of your disease. They can cut how many attacks you get and help you ease weakness, pain, fatigue and other problems. Combine these drugs with lifestyle strategies like exercise and stress relief to feel better and manage your condition.

Disease-Modifying Injections


If you have a relapsing form of MS, these drugs can slow nerve damage and help prevent new bouts of symptoms. They tamp down the immune system -- your body's defense against germs -- so it doesn't attack the protective coating (myelin) around your nerves. Some common drugs are:

  • Glatiramer acetate (Copaxone, Glatopa)
  • Interferon beta (Avonex, Betaseron, Extavia, Rebif)
  • Peginterferon (Plegridy)

Disease-Modifying Pills, Infusions


They work the same way as disease-modifying injections to prevent relapses. Pills you take by mouth include:

  • Dimethyl fumarate (Tecfidera)
  • Fingolimod (Gilenya)
  • Teriflunomide (Aubagio)

Some others you get as an infusion through a vein include:

  • Alemtuzumab (Lemtrada)
  • Mitoxantrone (Novantrone)
  • Natalizumab (Tysabri)

Corticosteroids to Manage Relapses


They fight setbacks and help control symptoms like numbness, tingling, weakness, and poor balance. You'll get a high dose of a drug like methylprednisolone (Solu-Medrol) through a vein once a day for 3 to 5 days. Afterward, your doctor might prescribe another steroid, such as prednisone (Deltasone), that you take by mouth.

Get a Plasma Exchange


Sometimes the liquid part of your blood, called plasma, has substances in it that harm your body and make your MS worse. Your doctor may suggest a process that removes your plasma and replaces it with a healthy version. It might be an option for you if your symptoms are severe and corticosteroids haven't controlled your relapses. It can be helpful if you have relapsing or severe, progressive MS.

Medicines to Manage Fatigue


If you're low on energy, your doctor can prescribe medicines like amantadine hydrochloride (Symmetrel), modafinil (Provigil), and fluoxetine (Prozac) to keep you awake and alert. Sleep aids and relaxation techniques like massage or meditation can help you fall asleep and stay that way through the night.

Ease Your Stiffness


MS can make your muscles tighten up. It might be hard for you to bend or straighten your knees and other joints. Medicine like baclofen and tizanidine (Zanaflex) can calm spasms. If they don't bring relief, your doctor may suggest you try dantrolene (Dantrium), diazepam (Valium), or botulinum toxin (Botox) injections. A physical therapist can also teach you exercises to make your limbs more flexible.

Ways to Ease Sadness


When you have MS, it's natural to sometimes feel anxious or down. Try exercise, stress relief techniques, and counseling to help you manage the emotional storm. If your depression doesn't let up after a few weeks or months, your doctor may suggest you take an antidepressant.

Help for Bladder Trouble


If your MS nerve damage makes you run to the bathroom a lot, your doctor can prescribe drugs like oxybutynin (Ditropan, Oxytrol) or tamsulosin (Flomax). They relax your bladder muscles and help you control the urge to go.

Controlling Bowel Problems


MS and some medicine you take for it can sometimes bring on constipation. To get regular again, add more fiber and fluid to your diet. Exercise can help keep your digestive tract moving. You can also try a gentle stool softener or use an occasional laxative.

Ease Your Aches


Whether you hurt in your arms, legs, back, or head, you can turn to medicine for relief. Anti-seizure drugs like carbamazepine (Tegretol), lamotrigine (Lamictal), and oxcarbazepine (Trileptal) relieve nerve pain. Baclofen (Lioresal) and tizanidine (Zanaflex) ease muscle spasms. Home treatments like heat and massage can also help you manage pain.

Treatment for Sexual Problems


If you're a guy and nerve damage makes it hard for you to get an erection, ED drugs like sildenafil (Viagra), tadalafil (Cialis), or vardenafil (Levitra) can help. If you're a woman and MS causes vaginal dryness, you can get help from a lubricant.

Relief Through Movement


A swim or walk can do wonders for stiff muscles. Exercise also helps you manage symptoms like depression, fatigue, and bladder trouble. Try a low-impact activity like tai chi, water exercise, or yoga. A physical therapist can design a fitness routine that's just right for you and teach you how to overcome weakness.

Occupational Therapy


Want to learn tricks and tools for daily activities when pain and weakness get in the way? An occupational therapist can help. They'll give you advice on how to streamline tasks like laundry, cooking, and getting yourself ready in the morning. They can also teach you ways to stay focused and overcome fatigue or memory issues that may affect your job.

Ways to Manage Stress


Try relaxation techniques like daily meditation or deep breathing to calm your mind. Do something you love, like reading a book or listening to music, to take your mind off your symptoms. And don't forget that you can always call a friend for support.

Show Sources


Mayo Clinic: "Multiple Sclerosis: Treatment."

National Multiple Sclerosis Society: "Medications," "Plasmapheresis," "Fatigue," "Spasticity," "Depression," "Bladder Problems," "Bowel Problems," "Pain," "Sexual Dysfunction," "Exercise," "Emotional Health."

Johns Hopkins Medicine: "Treating Multiple Sclerosis (MS)."

American Academy of Neurology: "Using Plasma Exchange to Treat Neurologic Conditions."

Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry: "Depression in multiple sclerosis: a review."

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: "Occupational Therapy."

Cleveland Clinic: "Occupational Therapy and Multiple Sclerosis."