There are also treatments available that do not change the course of the disease but can be used to relieve specific MS symptoms or reduce the symptoms of relapses.
Medications such as corticosteroids can help lessen the severity of the symptoms of an MS attack (also called a relapse). Some corticosteroids are given intravenously (IV), such as methylprednisolone, while others (such as prednisone) are given orally in pill form.
Corticosteroids work by relieving swelling and inflammation in the affected parts of the central nervous system, which helps relieve the symptoms of a relapse. They may cause mood changes, increased risk of infection, fluid retention, or an upset stomach. Taking corticosteroid pills with food or water helps reduce the risk of having an upset stomach.
In addition to medications that treat the disease itself, there are medications to relieve specific symptoms such as bladder problems, nausea, pain, depression, anxiety, sexual dysfunction, and muscle stiffness.
Surgery may help relieve symptoms for some people with MS. A surgical procedure in the area of the brain called the thalamus or deep brain stimulation may help people who have tremors.
A condition called chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency (CCSVI) has generated a great deal of interest among patients and researchers recently. It is believed that CCSVI occurs when veins in the head and neck are narrowed or blocked and blood is unable to efficiently move out from the brain and spinal cord. Blood build up and the resulting pressure causes the blood to flow back to the brain and spinal cord through new blood vessels that develop when the others are not working properly. These new blood vessels tend to leak blood into the brain and spinal cord tissue.
The theory is that the leaked blood is believed to trigger an immune response that is linked with multiple sclerosis. A study showed that a procedure that helped unblock the narrowed blood vessels provided relief for people with MS. However, a subsequent study showed that CCSVI is not related to MS. Further research is still needed to determine whether CCSVI is linked to MS, and whether the surgery used for CCSVI is safe and effective in people with MS.
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