Tips From A Doctor: The Path to Choosing an MS Treatment
- by Lori Hendin Travis, MD
- October 14, 2019
Dr. Travis has been compensated by Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc.
I’m a neurologist with a special interest in multiple sclerosis (MS) and a unique perspective on MS education. My father is also a neurologist, specializing in MS (and I’m lucky enough to get to practice side by side with him every day). My unique perspective also comes from 17 years of clinical experience treating patients with MS and my work in MS research. I’m a strong believer in education and I love speaking to a crowd of physicians and people living with MS because it allows me to share my knowledge and utilize my passion for helping patients navigate the dynamic world of MS treatment.
Another interesting fact is that I am the mother of 8 children, which means I’ve been a patient myself 7 times over, having had twins once! The one thing I remember very clearly about being a patient was that I wanted to know everything possible. The Lift MS® blog was created to address common concerns associated with MS, and it’s my goal to help you start the process of looking for the right MS therapy for you and learn about what things to consider when taking a therapy.
- The very first step is finding a good neurologist, preferably one experienced in treating a large number of MS patients, or an MS specialist. Since MS is a lifelong condition, the bond you form with your neurologist is often a strong one, and I always encourage patients to look for a neurologist they trust and that they can speak to freely.
- The second thing I recommend is finding a support system on this journey. Maybe it’s a spouse, sibling, son or daughter, best friend or someone you meet through the MS community...but having someone to ideate with, attend appointments with you, and act as “an extra set of ears” can be incredibly beneficial in the long run. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been deeply touched observing the patient-care partner relationship.
- Lastly, before you start any treatment, have a thorough conversation with your neurologist. They will want to partner with you when determining which treatment is best for you specifically because not every treatment is right for every patient. Be honest with your neurologist when they ask you questions about your health and overall MS goals, as this information will help them make a personalized decision with you. Your neurologist will tell you the risks and benefits of each therapy and help guide you to the medication they feel is best for you. I take it as a given that most patients want to go home and review the information before committing to a treatment (I would too!), so I often schedule a second visit about a week later to sit down and go over additional questions prior to selecting a treatment.
It’s important to remember that everyone with MS is unique. MS is a lifelong condition, but it is a condition that is manageable. One of the benefits of having so many options for MS treatments is that most people find the right therapy for them, even if it takes more than one try! The key is making sure you find an option that works for YOU.
One final thought: I highly recommend staying involved in your own MS education and community by signing up on the Lift MS® blog.
Lori Hendin Travis, MD
COPAXONE® (glatiramer acetate injection) is a prescription medicine that is used to treat relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS), to include clinically isolated syndrome, relapsing-remitting disease, and active secondary progressive disease, in adults.
Do not use COPAXONE® if you are allergic to glatiramer acetate or mannitol.