Your Treatment Overview

With MS, treatments affect either the disease itself (“disease modifying”) or the symptoms (“symptomatic”.) The discussion below covers both areas. It is important to Evaluate Your Options on both levels. Typically, your neurologist will want to see you every six or 12 months depending on your symptoms and treatment plan.  In those visits, your doctor will be looking for changes in your physical exam for signs of progression.

A typical post-diagnosis visit with your neurologist usually starts by taking a history of your symptoms since your last visit.  Doctors often feel that your subjective experiences are the most important thing to hear upfront.  So, be prepared to be asked by your neurologist about any concerns you may have and specifics about your symptoms.  Then, the doctor will perform an exam and compare this exam to previous exams.  Decisions are then made based on this history and exam.  There are two options at this point, you will either stay on your same treatment regimen or you are presented with options to change. To read about the different options to treat your symptoms, read about "Symptom Therapies".  Changing the current track you are on may be necessary if you have new symptoms or your symptoms have become worse.  In general, the typical visit will revolve around the best ways to address any problems your are experiencing.  The typical visit will usually take about 30 minutes and should occur about every three to six months.

Be aggressive.  Be committed.  Don’t accept a vague approach to your treatment.  Gather your questions, get answers, and come up with a plan. A good plan will meet your needs in a way that you can stick to it.  You have to have a plan of action you understand and believe in.  It’s a commitment.  Make sure you can follow through.

You have options.  Exercise them.  Consider yourself lucky.  Twenty years ago, patients were given an MS diagnosis and sent home after being told that there was nothing to be done.  Today, there are several very effective treatment options that have been proven to modify the course of MS.  These are called “disease-modifying drugs” and are sometimes referred to as the “ABC” drugs—even though they are now the “ABCRT” drugs. They are:

  • Avonex 
  • Betaseron 
  • Copaxone 
  • Rebif 
  • Tysabri 

A full discussion on these drugs and others is under “Your Treatment: Disease Modifying Therapies ”  Also, you can find out more information about Non-Traditional Therapies.

Research is gaining momentum.  As scientists get a deeper understanding of MS, more drugs are going into the pipeline.  There are multiple drugs currently in clinical trials and new findings on the mechanics of MS every month.  So your options are likely to grow significantly over the next five years.  That is not an excuse to wait, but it is a great reason to hope.

Also check out this article from the MS Foundation on making the right treatment choice for you.