If you've been recently diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS), you're probably wondering what to do next. Talk to your doctor about your treatment options and discuss whether treating your MS with a disease modifying therapy (DMT) is right for you.
There is some evidence to help support that treating with a DMT early in your treatment journey might reduce physical disability progression. Remember, your healthcare team is always your best resource for questions related to MS and your treatment.
In a study of 639 people in Sweden with MS (published in 2016), early treatment with a DMT resulted in a reduction of physical disability over an approximately 8-year study period. This was measured using the Kurtzke Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS). Your healthcare team may also use it, but it is not a tool you should use to monitor yourself. The EDSS ranges from 0 to 10, and your place on the scale helps determine your approximate level of physical ability.
People in the study who started treatment later were 5% more likely to reach moderate disability (stage 4 on the scale), for each year they delayed treatment. Treating early with a DMT showed better outcomes for physical disability progression over the course of the study.
Keep in mind, this is one study from outside the United States, and further research into the effectiveness of early treatment with DMTs is necessary. Each patient is different, and individual results may vary. It's important to have the right DMT along your MS path, so be sure to talk to your doctor about early treatment. Treatment with a DMT, as prescribed by your doctor, is just part of a comprehensive treatment plan that your healthcare provider will create along with you. You can start by asking your healthcare provider about:
Remember, your doctor is your best resource and partner in your MS treatment. Be an active participant. Asking the right questions early in your MS journey and treating your disease activity exactly as prescribed by your doctor makes both of your jobs easier.