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Advances in Managing Multiple Sclerosis

Advances in Managing Multiple Sclerosis

According to recent estimates, about 400,000 people in the United States live with multiple sclerosis (MS). There are other conditions that are now known to be distinct from the disease but may be misdiagnosed as MS. Typically, MS can be associated with fatigue, impaired vision, problems with balance and walking, numbness or pain, tremor, and other sensory and physical changes. “With MS, the symptoms are unpredictable and vary from person to person,” explains Mark S. Freedman, MD. “Some patients may experience abnormal fatigue and episodes of numbness and tingling, whereas others lose balance and muscle coordination. All patients with MS will have unique characteristics and symptoms, making treatment challenging.” Disease-Modifying Therapy Some drugs treat symptoms of MS whereas others modify the disease by altering the course of its progression, Dr. Freedman says. “With disease-modifying therapy, the goal is to reduce MS attacks, decrease the number of lesions seen on MRI, and slow or prevent disease progression.” Several therapies have been approved by the FDA to treat MS, some that are taken orally and others that are injected. The National Multiple Sclerosis Society recommends that patients diagnosed with relapsing MS and those whose disease is currently active consider beginning treatment with disease-modifying therapy as early as possible, as these medications lose efficacy as the disease advances. “It can be challenging for patients to take disease-modifying medications over a long period of time,” Dr. Freedman says, “but it’s important that they understand the role of these therapies in their overall MS treatment plan.” Patients must also be made aware of the obstacles that can interfere with adherence to treatment plans. The...
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