Many medications are used to treat MS, but none of them can claim to cure the disease. They generally reduce the rate of relapses – some only modestly. Those that are most effective at reducing disease activity come with a more significant side effect profile and the need for close monitoring for complications.
For many of them, it has been difficult to detect any effect on the progression of the disease to disability, although some of the newer drugs do seem to slow the disease course.
There have been no medical treatments for progressive forms of MS to date, but there are now agents, soon to become available, that have evidence for slowing of disability accumulation. It remains unclear which people with MS will be eligible for these treatments, and their long-term benefits.
The same is not true of the lifestyle therapies described on this site. Long-term studies have shown that diet changes, for example, significantly reduce the rate of MS disease activity and progression to disability. New evidence continues to back a dietary approach to managing MS, as well as the significant roles of vitamin D, exercise and stress reduction.
In the spirit of doing whatever it takes to stay well, many people with MS choose to take medication. This decision is not in in conflict with diet and lifestyle changes and getting adequate sunlight. Many people feel anything that may help is worth trying, as long as the side effects aren’t too severe.
The following medications are commonly used to treat multiple sclerosis.