There is currently no treatment that can cure multiple sclerosis but there is immunostimulant treatment, which can dampen the immune response that causes the disease and symptomatic treatment that can relieve the symptoms (see Symptoms of multiple sclerosis).
Immune stimulant treatment
There is only evidence that this form of treatment has efficacy in patients in the attack phase of disease (see Symptoms of multiple sclerosis). There are presently two kind of drugs used in treatment:
This is a form of protein that inhibits inflammation reactions and viral infections. Precisely why this drug is effective is unknown but the substance reduces the number of relapses by about 30%. The substance is injected just under the skin or into a muscle.
Many patients will initially have side effects in the form of flu-like symptoms or redness and irritation at the injection site. Often these disappear within a few weeks. Very rarely might the bone marrow and the liver be adversely affected but nonetheless patients must be checked regularly for this eventuality.
Some patients form antibodies to beta-interferon, which reduces the impact of the substance, and the treatment has to be stopped.
This is a synthetic drug that controls certain white cell functions and makes them release transmission signals which reduces inflammation reactions. The substance also reduces the number of relapses by about 30%. The substance must be injected just under the skin or into a muscle. – Only rarely will there be side effects but some might experience chest pain, shortness of breath or palpitations associated with the injections.
Also adrenal cortical hormones in large doses injected directly into a vein during the attack stage can shorten the duration of a relapse attack. At very severe multiple sclerosis drugs that inhibit the entire immune system might be given but this is not standard treatment due to many serious side effects.
- Physiotherapy: Most benefit from physiotherapy on a regular basis. In general, daily physical activity is important.
- Pain killer: It may be difficult to treat pain in multiple sclerosis patients with common forms of pain killer. Instead medications for epilepsy, for example carbamazepine, anti anxiety medicines like diazepam or medication for depression are frequently used. These often have better effect on Sclerosis pain than traditional pain killers. Patients with painful seizure-like muscle contractions can be treated with muscle relaxant drugs as for example Baclofen.
- Treatment of urination problems: Problems with keeping the water, incontinence, is often due to bladder muscle over activity and this can be treated with drugs that inhibit this muscle. Many patients experience recurrent cystitis (bladder infection) coming from inability to empty the bladder completely. Such cases can undergo training in emptying the bladder. Active cystitis might be treated with antibiotics
- Practical help: Over time it will often be necessary to assist the patient with different mechanical equipment such as a tripod or a wheelchair. Moreover, often changes to the layout of the home are necessary and home care is often needed. Many will at some point benefit from consultations with a social worker about assistance to find a sheltered job or early retirement. For many consultations with a psychologist will also be helpful to learn to live with multiple sclerosis.
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