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What are the Different Types of Multiple Sclerosis Therapy?

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  • Written By: Amber Karlins
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 06 November 2016
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Although there is, at present, no cure for multiple sclerosis, there are many sources of multiple sclerosis therapy available to ease its symptoms and slow its progression. The most common therapeutic interventions include drug therapies, but many other therapies are also available. Plasma exchanges, for example, are commonly used; some patients also find relief through alternative multiple sclerosis therapy, including counseling, acupuncture and bee venom therapy.

There are two common types of drugs prescribed for multiple sclerosis therapy. The first type is used to treat the symptoms of multiple sclerosis, and the second is used to slow the disease’s progress. Beta interferon, Glatiramer, Natalizumab, and Mitoxantrone are the drugs most frequently prescribed to slow the progression of multiple sclerosis.

Beta interferons are typically prescribed for those experiencing more than one relapse per year, although it can also be used for those whose recovery from a relapse is abnormally slow or difficult as well. It may also be prescribed for a patient whose MRIs show an increase in lesions, even if they are asymptomatic. Glatiramer, on the other hand, is an injection prescribed for those suffering from relapsing-remitting MS. It is given daily and is designed to reduce the frequency of the attacks.

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Natalizumab and Mitoxantrone both have a greater potential for serious side effects than Beta interferons and Glatiramer, and as such are typically reserved for those who fail to respond to other medications. Natalizumab is an injection given intravenously once per month at an infusion center. It is rarely prescribed because it increases the patient’s risk of developing progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy, a brain infection without treatment or cure that results in severe disability or death. Another option for those who do not respond to traditional treatments is Mitoxantrone, a type of chemotherapy administered intravenously every three months.

In addition to slowing the progression of MS, doctors can also use drug therapies to reduce the severity of symptoms. One such option is the use of corticosteroids, administered orally or intravenously, to reduce the length and strength of the attacks. Muscle relaxants are also frequently used to alleviate symptoms, and drugs such as amantadine or modafini may be administered to reduce the patient’s fatigue.

Plasma exchanges can also be used in multiple sclerosis therapy. During a plasma exchange, the patient’s blood is removed and the blood cells are separated from the plasma. The plasma is then replaced by a plasma-like solution, combined with the blood cells, and put back into the patient’s body. As a preventative measure, patients may also be prescribed occupational or physical therapy to help them continue to function independently in their day-to-day lives as long as possible. Counseling also may be recommended to help patients cope with depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues that frequently afflict those struggling with the chronic illness.

Some patients can find relief in alternative multiple sclerosis therapy as well. Some of these treatments include acupuncture, stress management, massage, and bee venom therapy. Bee venom therapy is an alternative treatment during which the patient is stung by bees. Some scientists believe the bees’ venom can help reduce pain and muscle weakness while simultaneously increasing coordination.

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