How to stick with MS treatment

Sticking with MS treatment can be challenging. It's not easy to take a medication for a long period of time, and people with MS may face challenges that make sticking to medication even more difficult (see "Obstacles to sticking with MS treatment"). Here are a few ways to help you adhere to your MS treatment.

Set realistic expectations. You need to realize what is realistic and what is not. Setting false expectations will only cause disappointment if your treatment does not work as well as you had hoped. Remember that there is no cure at the moment, but MS medications help treat the underlying disease to help slow the progression of MS, and some even help preserve ability. Find out all the information you can about the medication, including how soon it will start working, what it will do to help your MS, how much improvement you can expect, and any side effects associated with it. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist to learn more about your MS medication.

Talk to your doctor about your concerns. Your doctor can provide you with reassurance and guidance, as well as address any concerns you have about your MS treatment. Make sure your doctor knows your concerns so that you can manage them together. You should also feel free to talk with any other member of your team of MS health care professionals, like your MS nurse, physical therapist, or pharmacist. Specific issues and possible suggestions include the following:

  • If you have a fear of needles, injection training can help you overcome your fear. Do not hesitate to ask your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist to show you how to properly inject yourself. Manufacturers also offer support programs, which can be helpful if you're self-injecting at home.
  • Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about any side effect concerns you have about your MS medication. Many side effects lessen over time.
  • If any physical issues make your medication difficult, consider doing the following:
    • For any pills you are taking, ask your pharmacist for non-childproof bottles so that you can open them more easily. Make sure to keep these bottles out of the reach of children.
    • For injections, see if your medication is available as a pre-filled syringe or autoinjector, so that you do not have to mix the medication before injecting it. This can make it easier to administer the medication, especially if you have coordination problems or spasticity.
  • If you often forget to take your medication, your pharmacist is a good source on what to do to ensure you remember. They can help you simplify your medication routine, especially if you are on a number of different medications. Memory aids such as alarms, calendars, and dosettes/blister packs (medication containers with slots for each day and time, so that you can see whether you've taken a dose) can help.

Your doctor will also be able to make many more suggestions to ensure you are confident in sticking with your medication.

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