Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is triggered by an autoimmune response and affects people of all ages, but it is most often diagnosed in individuals between the ages of 20 and 50. A study by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS) says that about a million people in the country suffer from the condition. Let’s look at the types of MS and the treatment options for the condition in this article.
Types of MS and effective treatment options
There are four types of MS:
- Clinically Isolated Syndrome (CIS): The symptoms caused by the inflammation or depletion of myelin last for at least 24 hours in the case of CIS. If accompanied by brain lesions, patients may experience another attack and eventually be diagnosed with MS.
- Relapsing-Remitting MS (RRMS): This form of the autoimmune disease accounts for about 80-85% of all MS cases. This type is characterized by episodes of inflammatory activity where new or recurrent symptoms could occur. A person with this RRMS may recover fully or partially between episodes, and this form does not progress between relapses.
- Primary Progressive MS (PPMS): This type accounts for about 10-15% of all MS cases. PPMS is characterized by impaired neurological function that worsens as the condition progresses. There are temporary minor improvements in the symptoms and no relapses in this form of the disease.
- Secondary Progressive MS (SPMS): This is usually seen as the next stage after RRMS, and 50% of individuals with RRMS develop SPMS within 10 years of diagnosis. This condition is similar to RRMS, but relapses and minor remissions might or might not occur.
When discussing the types of MS and effective treatment options, it’s important to note that there’s no cure for this condition. Treatment only helps patients recover from an attack and manage the symptoms. Also, no treatment is necessary if one has mild symptoms.
Treatments for MS attacks
- Corticosteroids: These help reduce nerve inflammation and can be administered orally or intravenously.
- Plasmapheresis: The plasma or the liquid portion of the blood is separated from the blood cells. The blood cells are then mixed with a protein solution known as albumin and reintroduced into the patient’s body. This treatment is used for people with severe symptoms who are not responding to steroids.
Treatments to modify the progression
- PPMS: Ocrelizumab is the only FDA-approved disease-modifying therapy to treat this form.
- RRMS: Various injectable and oral medications are available to treat this type of MS. Some of these are interferon beta medications. That said, one should thoroughly discuss the side effects of these medications with their doctor
Doctors may also advise infusion treatments like those involving the use of ocrelizumab, natalizumab, and alemtuzumab, if deemed appropriate.
Doctors may also prescribe any of these treatment methods:
- Physical therapy: This can help strengthen the muscles and teach patients how to use devices to make their daily life easier.
- Muscle relaxants: These medications help overcome painful muscle stiffness and spasms.
- Other medications: Medications to reduce fatigue, pain, insomnia, depression, and other issues associated with MS could be prescribed.