Multiple sclerosis treatment

Our approach

The multidisciplinary clinical staff at the Multiple Sclerosis Center at the Northwell Health Neuroscience Institute offers the most advanced MS treatments and rehabilitation. Our focus is on improving or sustaining your functional ability and independence. As part of your treatment, you’ll benefit from the expertise of a wide range of specialists who will assist in treatment, education and support. This includes access to:

  • Psychological counseling
  • Formal neuropsychological testing
  • Neuro-ophthalmology
  • Physical therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Vocational therapy
  • Speech and language pathology
  • Urology
  • Psychiatry
  • Neurophysiology
  • Biofeedback
  • Neuroradiology
  • Pain Management
  • Sleep Medicine

Overview

If you’ve been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a variety of oral, injectable and infusion drugs are available to modify the course of your disease or to reduce relapses. Our physicians specialize in creating a tailored regimen for each patient depending on his or her needs.

Drugs used to modify the disease course include glatiramer acetate, interferon beta-1a, peginterferon beta-1a, interferon beta-1b, daclizumab, teriflunomide, dimethyl fumarate, fingolimod, alemtuzumab, natalizumab, and ocrelizumab. Corticosteroids, such as methylprednisolone and prednisone, may also be used in the acute setting to manage inflammation associated with MS relapses.

Reasons for treatment

Our physicians will prescribe medications to help alleviate many of the accompanying symptoms of MS, including bladder and bowel dysfunction, depression, pain, fatigue, sexual problems, spasticity and infection. You may also benefit from physical, occupational, vocational and speech therapy to address many of the functional challenges of living with multiple sclerosis. 

Risks and side effects

There is a wide range of medications used to reduce disease symptoms and progression for individuals with multiple sclerosis. In some of these medications, there are significant side effects. These include:

  • Steroids (prednisone, prednisolone) – side effects include bloating, insomnia, bone loss, suppression of the immune system, rounded face, increase in blood pressure, increase in blood sugar, and psychosis.
  • Beta interferons (Avonex®, Betaseron®, Rebif®, Extavia®, Plegridy®) – side effects include flu-like symptoms, injection site pain and inflammation, headache
  • Glatiramer acetate (Copaxone®, Glatopa®) – side effects include injection site reactions
  • Natalizumab (Tysabri) – side effects include headache, fatigue, joint pain, chest discomfort
  • Alemtuzumab (Lemtrada) – side effects include rash, headache, fever, nausea, fatigue, insomnia
  • Dimethyl fumarate (Tecfidera) – side effects include  flushing, nausea, diarrhea, abdominal pain
  • Teriflunomide (Aubagio) – side effects include hair  thinning, headache, abnormal liver tests

Preparing for treatment

Your doctor will work with you to determine which multiple sclerosis treatments are right for you. This will include weighing the benefits and side effects of each medication. 

What to expect after treatment

While there is no cure for multiple sclerosis, treatment can be effective in speeding recovery from attacks, slowing the progression of the disease and managing symptoms.