Relapsing MS Treatment Expectations


Get tips from a neurologist about treating MS

My name is Dr. Pat Coyle. I’m a neurologist who takes care of multiple sclerosis (MS) patients. Starting a new treatment can be overwhelming. I’d like to give you some things to think about as you begin the treatment recommended by your doctor. Keep in mind, my opinion should not take the place of your doctor. Each neurologist may have a different approach. Talk to your doctor if you have any questions about specific treatment goals or how well your treatment is working.

Here are some things to think about at the beginning of treatment for MS:

  • There are multiple options available to help treat your relapsing MS. All treatment options vary, and the choice depends on each person’s condition. If you experience any side effects, make sure you speak to your doctor about them. He or she can answer any of your treatment questions and discuss possible side effects. Learn more about the different types of treatments available for relapsing MS
  • Treatment does not work immediately. It’s important to take your treatment as directed. Make sure you listen carefully to your doctor. Follow the instructions he or she gives you
  • Once you start a treatment, you and your doctor should discuss your response to it on a regular basis. It’s also important to monitor your progress. This can be done through a clinical exam and by an MRI scan. Your doctor may want to know if you have a relapse on treatment. A relapse is a new or recurrent neurological episode that lasts for more than 24 hours and is not associated with an active infection. Talk with your doctor if you have questions about relapses
  • Your doctor may ask to see you every couple of months initially to closely monitor your progress. This is up to your doctor and what he or she thinks is appropriate for you. Appointments generally include a neurologic exam. This tests your nervous system, strength, ability to walk, and coordination. Relapsing MS patients may have a brain MRI once a year to determine whether there’s any silent breakthrough lesion activity. Learn more about MRIs here
  • Make sure you communicate. Keep the lines of communication open between you and your doctor. Let him or her know how you’re doing. If there are any problems, bring them up. If you have any questions, ask them. Being open and honest with your doctor can be very helpful in reaching your treatment goals 

Discussing treatment sooner rather than later with your doctor is important. Remember to take your treatment directly as prescribed by your doctor. Check out these tips to help you stay on track with your medicine.