We now know that early treatment improves long-term health and wellbeing by slowing down the build up of irreversible damage and reducing the number of relapses people experience. Starting treatment early is best but if you start later it can also have some benefits.
Speak to your neurologist
Everyone with a relapsing form of MS should speak to their neurologist or MS professional about treatment options and make an active and informed choice about what is right for them. If you don't have a relapsing form of MS, or aren't sure what kind of MS you have, it's still important to have an annual review with your neurologist.
Experts used to think that when a person with MS had a ‘relapse’ it meant symptoms appeared and/or quickly got worse and then went away (or ‘remitted’).
Thanks to wider use of MRI scanning, we now have evidence that when symptoms get better, the damage that MS causes often doesn’t stop. So even when someone with MS is not having a relapse, MS may carry on attacking their body. This could lead to nerve damage that can’t be put right.
This new evidence has changed what we understand about MS and how to treat it. Rather than waiting to see whether more relapses occur, DMTs should be offered as close as possible to diagnosis, before damage to the body has built up. What does this mean for me? If this news affects you, we recommend that you speak to your neurologist or MS specialist about your treatment options, so you can decide what's right for you. If you don't have a neurologist or MS specialist, you should visit your GP and request a referral.
How was this new consensus reached?
We reached this consensus with people affected by MS, neurologists, MS nurses, and the MS Trust. A meeting was held to consider the evidence about whether early treatment with DMTs improves long-term outcomes for people with MS. We strongly agreed that the evidence confirms the importance of treating with DMTs as close to diagnosis as possible.
We're making this recommendation following the publication of guidance from the Association of British Neurologists (ABN) and with support from Shift MS and MS Trust.
How can I talk about treatment to a health professional?
We've put together a checklist to help you talk to your neurologist or MS specialist about the right treatment for you.