New hope in multiple sclerosis treatment

While we don't yet have a cure for MS, there's a lot of breakthrough research going on worldwide. The good news is that some medications are showing very promising results.

There are currently a number of medications approved for MS in Canada that are considered disease-modifying drugs. These medications are available as injectables, oral products and as infusions. Some examples of disease-modifying therapies include immune system modulators and monoclonal antibodies.

Researchers find that these medications help some people have fewer relapses and delay the progression of their MS, especially if it's diagnosed and treated early. Unfortunately, none of these treatments can prevent recurring symptoms, such as fatigue and numbness. While most MS medications are used for relapsing-remitting MS, some medications are approved for primary progressive MS or secondary progressive MS.

If you're experiencing some discomfort from a relapse or attack, your doctor might prescribe steroids for a short-term treatment. They are not usually taken over a long period of time, however, because of their side effects.

Some medications that might help treat symptoms include:

  • baclofen or tizanidine for muscle spasticity (stiffness)
  • methylprednisolone or oral steroids (such as prednisone) for optic neuritis (inflammation of the optic nerve)
  • antidepressants for depression
  • dimenhydrinate or ondansetron for vertigo or dizziness

There are many other experimental treatments that are being studied such as stem cell therapies and low-dose naltrexone. A person with MS may seek out newer, exploratory treatments if other medications or therapies were not effective. It’s best to speak with your doctor when considering new treatment options to get an accurate understanding of their risks and benefits.

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