Symptom management and treatments evidence

There are lots of different ways to manage MS, and you might find some ways suit you better than others. We're always looking for evidence to support treatments and activities that might help with your MS.

Cannabis and cannabis-based medicines

Dealing with pain and spasticity when you have MS is relentless and exhausting - it can make it impossible to manage daily life. Most people with MS will experience these symptoms at some point and, while there are licensed treatments available to help, they don’t work for everyone.

But, we know that cannabinoids (compounds that make up the cannabis plant) could help. Read our Cannabis and MS report to find out more about our cannabis position.

Nabiximols (commonly known as Sativex) is a cannabis-based oral spray. It is available on the NHS across the UK to manage 'moderate' to 'severe' spasticity when other treatments haven’t worked. But many people struggle to access it. Sativex doesn’t work for everyone, but we think that everyone who is eligible should be able to try it.

Read our Sativex Evidence Pack to find out more about the research and evidence behind Sativex.

Download our cannabis and cannabis-based medicines reports


DMTs (disease modifying therapies) aren't a cure for MS, but they can reduce how many relapses someone has and how serious they are. We know that just 56% of people who could benefit from DMT are doing so. We also know access to treatment varies from region to region within the UK.

Our research found prescribing of DMTs is influenced by a number of different factors, including familiarity and previous experience with DMTs and peer networks. Neurologists felt guidelines on DMT eligibility (which are based on the frequency and severity of relapses) were open to interpretation, leading to different personal “thresholds” for what counted as a relapse and whether someone was eligible for DMTs.

Right treatment right time

Across Scotland more than 11,000 of us live with multiple sclerosis (MS). It can affect the way we think, feel, see and move. It is a lifelong condition with no cure at present, however, over the past 25 years we have seen great strides made in treatments for people living with the relapsing form of the condition.

Access to disease modifying therapies (DMTs) can play an important role in an individual’s MS journey, helping to reduce relapses and slow down the progression of the condition.

Time to Act – early treatment

In November 2014, we facilitated a consensus meeting with key members of the MS community to consider the balance of clinical evidence and emerging practice around
whether early treatment with disease modifying therapies (DMTs) improves long-term outcomes for people with MS.

It was attended by people with MS, neurologists, MS nurses, MS Society staff and MS Trust staff. This group of experts agreed that current evidence confirms the importance of treating with DMTs as close as possible to making a diagnosis of MS (consistent with people being able to make informed decisions).

This paper outlines why early treatment is important for people with relapsing forms of MS and what has led to this conclusion.