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Multiple Sclerosis

Treatment Options for MS

There are several different groups of treatment options for MS. You and your neurologist will decide which ones are best for your specific case. The four main types of treatment options include general, specific therapy, preventative therapy for relapses, supportive therapy.

General therapy is thing you can do on your own to help manage your symptoms. These include:

  • Exercise
  • Physical therapy
  • Nutrition
  • Treatment for fever or infections

The National MS Society Expert Consensus Statement of 2007 states

  • Initiate therapy as soon as possible following diagnosis of active-relapsing disease with an interferon beta agent or glatiramer acetate
  • Drug therapy should also be considered in patients with first attack at high risk of MS
  • Access to medications should not be limited by age, level of disability, or frequency of relapses
  • Continue treatment indefinitely unless lack of benefit, intolerant adverse effects, or better treatment becomes available
  • Ensure adequate accessibility of all FDA-approved drugs for MS
  • Change treatments only for medically appropriate reasons

Although there is no cure for MS, there are treatments that can help manager relapsing MS – Disease-Modifying Drugs (DMDs). These drugs are the only medications proven to change the course of relapsing forms of MS.

DMDs impact relapsing MS in 3 important ways:

  • Reducing brain lesions seen on MRI scans
  • Reducing frequency of relapses
  • Slowing the progression of disability

Types of DMDs

  • Rebif® (interferon beta-1a): approved in 2002 for treatment of relapsing MS, Rebif is injected three times a week under the skin. An auto-injector called Reviject II is available for Rebif.
  • Avonex® (interferon beta-1a): Avonex was approved in 1996 and is injected once per week into the muscle.  No auto-injector is available.
  • Betaseron (interferon beta-1b): Betaseron was approved in 1993 and is injected every other day under the skin.  An auto-injector is available.
  • Copaxone® (glatiramer acetate injection): Copaxone was approved in 1996 and is injected every day under the skin.  An auto-injector is available.
  • Tysabri® (natalizumab): Tysabri was approved in 2004, then re-approved in 2006. It is taken every 4 weeks in a 1-hour long intravenous (IV) infusion and must be administered by a medical professional.

Keeping track of your symptoms and having periodic MRI scans will help determine how well your treatment is working and whether other treatment options should be considered.