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does the medication help

Hi , I am not dx yet , awaiting scan. Been off work for six months and now on half pay so desperate to get back to work . But staff health don’t think I should return Untill properly better. Suffering with tiredness , wlking difficulties and stiff legs, painful feet and hands and other sx depending on degree of tiredness . Hopefully whatever the outcome is ms or not do the drugs work and relieve the symptoms so I can get back to work and provide for my family which is really worrying me at moment. Pete

Hi Pete,

It depends which drugs you mean. There are, in effect, two different classes of drugs, and they do not have the same aims and objectives at all (though you can be on both, with no conflict).

There are Disease Modifying Drugs (DMDs) - these are mostly injectables, though a few newer types are just appearing. These have absolutely nothing to do with symptom relief, but are aimed solely at reducing frequency and/or severity of future attacks.

The second lot ARE for symptom control. They can be taken with DMDs, or alone. They would include things like painkillers (for both nerve pain, and possibly muscular pain), and muscle relaxants, to help relieve tightness and spasms. There are also various specialist symptom relief drugs, depending which particular symptoms you’ve got - so there are some for vertigo, fatigue, waterworks, things like that.

Nothing is a perfect cure - being realistic, it’s unlikely they will make you feel as you did before you got ill. BUT, they can help a lot. I don’t think I’d be able to walk at all by now, if I wasn’t on permanent muscle relaxants. As it is - well, my walking is more laboured and painful than most people’s, and certainly not “normal” (though you probably wouldn’t guess how much I struggle, to look at me). But I’m still able to do it, which I reckon I wouldn’t, without the drugs - so yes, they do help.

Tina

You might also get given steroids, either a short course of high dose steroids or a longer course of lower dose ones. If the problems you are experiencing are from a relapse or flare-up (and they could be, because these can last for months) then the steroids will damp down lots of your symptoms and get you able to work. If your symptoms are from damage to your nervous system, you will need the kind of symptom relief drugs Tina describes above. The only way you’ll find out if the steroids help is by having them. If you have them and they do help, your MS will be defined as relapsing-remitting.