Managing Multiple Sclerosis (MS) with your pharmacist
Pharmacists can help you manage chronic conditions like Multiple Sclerosis. They will also find the best medication for your needs and offer education on how to follow a healthy lifestyle. Pharmacists can help you get the most out of your medication and manage any side effects.
What is multiple sclerosis (MS)?
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disorder that can affect the brain and spinal cord. MS often occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks its own nerve fibers and another layer of insulation called myelin sheathing, which helps protect healthy blasts of nerve fibers. This attack causes inflammation, which destroys nerve cell processes and myelin – altering electrical messages in the brain.
MS is unpredictable and may affect some individuals more than the others. Some may have mild symptoms, while others might have severe ones that can impair their ability to write, speak or walk. There are a number of types of multiple sclerosis, some more common than others.
Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
90% of patients will have a relapsing-remitting type of multiple sclerosis at the time of diagnosis which is characterized by symptoms that manifest within a period of hours to days.
Common signs of a relapse may include:
Blurred vision, double vision or loss of vision
These symptoms tend to persist for a few days, weeks or even months and then go away sometimes after partly or completely disappearing. Patients may then remain symptom-free for a period of time that can be anywhere from just a few weeks to many months and even years (known as remission). It is important to have MS treatment at the first signs of symptoms because it will then be easier to control the progression of the disease.
Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
If the RRMS changes to a point where there are no distinct relapses and remissions, the course of the disease has transitioned to secondary progressive MS. All of those people with secondary progressive MS had a relapsing-remitting disease course at first. Secondary progressive MS is when symptoms worsen and there are no periods of remission.
Symptoms may be stable at times but overall, they are likely to get worse over time. You may notice changes in your abilities when comparing current function to past function but not necessarily identify the cause. Sometimes after the onset of secondary progressive MS an individual may experience a relapse. This would then be considered secondary progressive MS with relapses
Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
10-15% of MS patients will experience progressive worsening of their condition from the start. This is called primary progressive MS and people with this type usually experience a gradual change in mobility. Some common symptoms of primary-progressive MS include heavy legs and limited mobility.
Benign Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
Benign MS is a mild course where an individual will have mild disease after having MS for about 15 years. This occurs in about 5-10% of patients. There isn’t any reliable way of predicting which patients will follow this course, however there are some factors which may indicate benign disease. People can tell if they have had a diagnosis of benign MS for at least 15 years and have not shown any evidence of worsening on either their functional ability or from an MRI scan.
How pharmacists help Multiple Sclerosis patients
A pharmacist working with Multiple Sclerosis patients needs to develop treatment pathways for emerging drugs, provide safe & effective prescription information, and so on. The pharmacist working with the MS patient is highly valued for their work and is often considered as a “first port of call” for day-to-day management. Their assistance ensures the implementation of clinically effective healthcare, at an affordable price.
Now listen to the pharmacy podcast on “Managing Chronic Conditions with the Help of Your Pharmacist”.
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Resources from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society
· Ask an MS Expert Webinar Series weekly on Fridays from 1-1:30pm ET
Learn how Surescripts solutions are helping to revolutionize the specialty medications experience
Surescripts blog posts on pharmacy and specialty medications
Relevant UN-Scripted Podcast Episodes