MS Medications to Manage MS Symptoms
MS medications are available to help manage MS symptoms, such as spasticity, tremors, fatigue, depression, pain, and sexual dysfunction. The specific MS medications prescribed will depend on the type of symptoms that the person with MS is experiencing.
Many people with MS (multiple sclerosis) have problems with spasticity, a condition that primarily affects the lower limbs. Spasticity can occur either as a sustained stiffness caused by increased muscle tone or as spasms that come and go, especially at night.
Spasticity is usually treated with muscle relaxants and tranquilizers. Baclofen (Lioresal®), the most commonly prescribed medication for this symptom, may be taken orally or, in severe cases, injected into the spinal cord.
Tizanidine (Zanaflex®) has been used for years in Europe and is now approved in the United States. Tizanidine appears to function similarly to baclofen. Diazepam (Valium®), clonazepam (Klonopin®), and dantrolene (Dantrium®) can also reduce spasticity.
Although its beneficial effect is temporary, physical therapy may also be useful and can help prevent the irreversible shortening of muscles known as contractures. Surgery to reduce spasticity is rarely recommended as a treatment option in MS.
Weakness and balance problems are also characteristic of MS. When weakness is a problem, some spasticity can actually be beneficial by lending support to weak limbs. In such cases, medication levels that improve spasticity completely may be inappropriate.
Physical therapy and exercise can also help preserve remaining function, and patients may find that various aids -- such as foot braces, canes, and walkers -- can help them remain independent and mobile.
Occasionally, physicians can provide temporary relief from weakness, spasms, and pain by injecting a drug called phenol into the spinal cord, muscles, or nerves in the arms or legs.