Managing your multiple sclerosis (MS)
In MS treatment, communication is key
There’s a lot that goes into managing your MS. Since everyone experiences MS differently, it's important to share your personal preferences and lifestyle with your healthcare professional. They will want to know this because it factors into choosing what disease-modifying therapy (DMT) is right for you.
Every DMT comes with certain benefits and important considerations, like how it's taken, how well it works, and side effects it may cause.
Open and frequent communication with your healthcare team is the best way to ensure the MS therapy you and your healthcare professional decide on is truly the right one for you.
It’s not always easy, though
MS is complicated and so is treating and talking about it. You may only see your healthcare professional a few times a year, and there’s a lot to discuss, or you may struggle to express how a symptom or issue is impacting you.
The symptoms of MS can also make treatment a challenge. For example, cognitive changes or trouble communicating can make it hard to clearly describe your concerns to your healthcare professional. Memory problems might make it hard to start a new medicine and to keep taking it as directed over time as well.
Teamwork helps MS management work
Your neurologist is the leader of your MS care team and will help you understand what to expect from any MS treatment before you start. Nurses and other members of the office who you speak with regularly are also there to help.
But your neurologist and their staff aren’t the only ones in your corner. There are many others you can rely on for help living day-to-day with your MS. These can include your friends and family, as well as others who are living with MS.
A variety of online communities and advocacy groups for MS exist and can be a great source of information, inspiration, support, and more. You can find one of them here.
Professionals in other healthcare disciplines can help you manage specific MS symptoms, too. For example, physical therapists can help you maintain physical function and provide tips for safe exercise. Mental health professionals can help you talk about and navigate emotional changes.
Remember, you’re not alone on your MS journey. Lean on the knowledge and support of people who know what life with MS is like . . . they’re here to help!
Prepare for your conversation with your healthcare professional
Your care really starts with you. Keep your healthcare professional informed of how things are going. Don’t hesitate to bring up any issues you’re having with new or worsening symptoms, side effects, or taking your medication. This information can help your healthcare professional evaluate your treatment plan and point you to other support as needed.
There are steps you can take to make sure you and your healthcare professional make the most of your time together. You can make a list of the ways MS affects you, write down questions in advance so you don’t forget them, or keep a diary of symptoms to share at appointments. As an alternative, you can practice describing your symptoms and concerns as clearly as possible or focus on 2 or 3 things that are most important to you.
The more your healthcare professional understands how you experience MS, the better they will be able to help you manage it.
For your next visit
To ensure you discuss everything that’s important to you with your healthcare professional, use this Discussion Guide to write down your MS experiences or questions, or to take notes during your visit.Download now