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Did You Know That…  Teri Garr has multiple sclerosis?

Teri was a dancer and comic actress with a filmography that included Young Frankenstein (1974), Tootsie (1982), and Mr. Mom (1983).  She was nominated for an Oscar for Tootsie.  She said that she first noticed symptoms at the height of her career, in 1983, but at that time did not know what the symptoms were and what they meant.  The firm diagnosis of MS was not made until 1999, though she had seen physicians about her symptoms for years.  It started as a simple stumble while jogging in Central Park but there was nothing she could see that she had tripped over.  Next was a sharp arm pain.  Other signs and symptoms appeared and evanesced over time.  In 2002 Tari let the public know that she had MS.  She became an advocate, working with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.  Her MS is treated with medications along with an exercise program and following a healthy diet.  She retired in 2007, though she still works as a spokesperson, educating everyone about MS.

These Newer Medications Are Effective

The medications that we have now, that have been developed through the past 20 years or so to treat multiple sclerosis (MS), are effective.  They slow the progression of MS to the point, at times, of almost stopping it.  Modern concepts of MS pathophysiology and the resultant treatments continue to inform the medicinal chemists who feed new small molecules and biologics into the pipeline.  We now know so much more than even a few years ago about how these medications work.  However, while the current situation is a great improvement over the past, none of the current medications cure MS.  We are still looking avidly and vigorously for a cure.  That’s what we need.

The Health Care Provider and Team Matter

It is a fact, and always has been, that the successful practice of medicine is a blend of art and science.  This is never more true than in treating MS, where a great deal of art is needed in addition to a complex medical science.  This central truth means that the caring, skill, and experience of the health care provider and the treatment team matter.  Matter greatly.  The medications used, the tracking of progression or lack thereof, scans as needed, and other aspects of treating MS need to be tailored for you, specifically for you.  It is not “one-size-fits-all”.  This is not a situation in which you might get care from the local doc in the “doc-in-the-box”.

Start Well, Start Right Away, and Stay With It

For best success one has to start the medication(s) as soon as the diagnosis of MS has been confirmed.  And once you start the treatment regimen you have to stay with it.  Your medical treatment team has specific guidelines they follow on when to start which medications, when to switch from one medication to another, and when to stop a medication.  So it’s important for you to stay with the treatment plan if you want to live long and at your best.

Different Kinds of Medications

Some of the MS medications are oral meds, others are injections, and others are infusion medications, dripped slowly directly into a vein over a period of time.

Some MS Medications Can Be Expensive

The downside of the newest medications in all areas of medicine is their cost, and it’s true for MS.  The newer MS medications can be expensive.  Most offices and clinics that treat MS know about special programs, how to apply, and how to help you get the right medications for less.  One can also appeal directly to the pharmaceutical company that makes it; they often help when they can.

Times When a Rescue Medication is Necessary

You are on a medication regimen that is working, the MS is progressing slowly or not at all.  Then it changes and gets worse quickly.  Most of the time it will soon start to get better without a rescue medicine.  But not always.  This is one time when you need that expert health care provider with experience.  There are times when the MS gets much worst, too much so, and you need a rescue medication.  For example, if your eyesight deteriorates, or you become weak or off balance.  Such an episode might be a time for a burst of a rescue steroid medicine.

While Much Can Go Wrong, There Are Solutions

While it’s true that many adverse surprises can appear with MS, your clinical team will have solutions.  Here’s a short list, not meaning to scare you, but to let you know that if one of these happens it might be because of the MS.  Bowel and bladder problems; walking problems or tremors or muscle spasms; fatigue; sexual problems; pain; infections; itching; being uncharacteristically upset and emotional, including depressed; dizziness and/or vertigo.

National Multiple Sclerosis Society Website

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society website is an important support site.  The staff of the NMSS are dedicated individuals.  The site tries to provide complete facts about what’s available.

https://www.nationalmssociety.org/

As new medications are launched or news of possible future medications is found, we will do our best keep you updated.  The important aspect here is our ability to gather expert opinions about which new medications hold great promise, which will probably be somewhat helpful, and which are likely to be no help at all.

 Helpful links:

ClinicalTrials.gov – As of March 12, 2019, this site shows 790 Studies found for MS in the US

https://www.clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/results?cond=Multiple+Sclerosis&term=&cntry=US&state=&city=&dist= 

National Library of Medicine (United States), National Institutes of Health, National Center for Biotechnology Information, PubMed Central

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1388131/

National Multiple Sclerosis Society

https://www.nationalmssociety.org/Treating-MS

emedicine Medscape

https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1146199-treatment

The Mayo Clinic

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/multiple-sclerosis/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20350274

Multiple Sclerosis: Better Questions Lead to Better Answers

https://www.multiplesclerosis.com/us/treatment.php

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