MS treatment and therapies 

There is no cure for multiple sclerosis (MS) at the moment, but there are a number of treatments we offer which may help. These divide into three groups:

  • Symptomatic therapies
  • Treatments for relapses
  • Disease modifying drugs

Symptomatic therapies

Symptomatic therapies are treatments which can help with symptoms that occur as a result of MS or its treatment. They include a wide range of medication such as pain relief, bladder medications, physical therapies, for example physiotherapy, occupational therapy, exercise, and emotional therapies like cognitive behavioural therapy.

Symptomatic therapies do not prevent or reduce the severity of relapses or prevent, delay or slow down the development of progressive MS.

Treatments for relapses

Medications, in particular drugs called corticosteroids (usually referred to as steroids) are often given to help during relapses. Steroids are thought to shorten the duration of the relapse by reducing the inflammation.

Disease modifying drugs

There are new drugs being introduced for certain symptoms. Please ask about this at your next appointment.

Unlike symptomatic therapies, disease modifying drugs (DMDs) are drugs which can reduce episodes of inflammation.

These drugs have been shown to reduce the frequency and severity of relapses and slow the development of disability in people with relapsing forms of MS. They do not appear to modify the progressive forms of MS when people are not having relapses. At present none of them is a cure for MS.

There are three types of DMD which are licensed in the UK for the treatment of MS.

These are:

  • Interferon beta - there are four interferon beta drugs that come in two forms, interferon beta-1a (made under the brand names Avonex® and Rebif®) and interferon beta-1b (made under the brand names Betaferon® and Extavia®. Extavia is a bio-equivalent of Betaferon)
  • Glatiramer acetate (made under the brand name Copaxone®)
  • Natalizumab (made under the brand name Tysabri®)

In the short film below Dr Jeremy Chataway, Consultant Neurologist, explains how existing drugs are being tested as possible treatments for multiple sclerosis.