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Clin Ther. 2006 Apr;28(4):445-60.

Managing the symptoms of multiple sclerosis: a multimodal approach.

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Georgetown University Hospital, Washington, District of Columbia 20007, USA.



Patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) may experience numerous symptoms, including spasticity, fatigue, cognitive dysfunction, depression, bladder dysfunction, bowel dysfunction, sexual dysfunction, and pain.


This article reviews the pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic interventions used to manage the symptoms of MS and discusses how interventions for a particular MS symptom may have an impact on other symptoms.


The English-language literature was reviewed through November 2005 using MEDLINE and the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, with no restriction on year. The search terms included multiple sclerosis, disease-modifying therapies, adverse events, and combinations of multiple sclerosis with terms such as spasticity, fatigue, depression, mood disorders, pain, bladder dysfunction, bowel dysfunction, sexual dysfunction, cognitive dysfunction, and quality of life.


The numerous options for the treatment of MS symptoms have shown varying degrees of efficacy and tolerability. Certain symptoms, if left untreated, may precipitate exacerbation of others. For example, spasticity may lead to pain and bladder and bowel dysfunction, whereas fatigue can compromise cognitive function. Similarly, the adverse effects of treatments for certain symptoms may further compromise other aspects of function. For example, the use of antidepressants may lead to sexual dysfunction, and treatments for spasticity and pain may cause sedation, which can worsen fatigue, cognitive dysfunction, and depressed mood.


MS is associated with numerous symptoms that can be adversely affected by each other and by therapeutic interventions. Careful clinical monitoring and individualization of pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic therapies are recommended to manage the symptoms of MS, with the goals of improving or maintaining function and preserving the patient's quality of life.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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