The argument used to be that since Multiple Sclerosis Steroid treatment did nothing to slow the progression of the disease, treatment with them should be avoided because there was no benefit.  Some may argue that this is still the case, basing their argument on the fact that there are too many side effects to consider MS Steroid treatment.  But the majority of the MS community now sees that just reducing the severity of the side effects during relapses and reducing the length of time a patient remains in relapse is a trade-off worth making.

Usually MS patients endure at least mild symptoms while the disease is in remission, but when an attack, or relapse, comes on the fatigue makes even going to work sometimes impossible.  Patients sometimes go into depression, and the difficulty in walking limits activities severely and also raises self-image issues that can compound the depression.  Steroids help with all these symptoms, making the side effects of MS steroid treatment seem insignificant to some.


Not all of the body’s naturally produced steroids are helpful as part of an MS Steroid treatment


Of all the naturally occurring steroids in the body, only the glucocorticosteroids are prescribed to treat MS.  It seems that glucocorticosteroids are produced, in part, as the body’s response to fight off fear, anxiety, pain, overexertion, infection, and low blood-glucose levels.  It seems that when needed, the body will rapidly release these glucocorticosteroids which have an immunosuppressive effect by deactivating the white blood cells called T-cells, limiting the cells ability to “communicate with each other.  And these T-cells of the immune system are thought to be the main culprit in the damage caused by MS.  Reducing their number reduces the symptoms and the length of the attack.  So if you follow the logic, the case for steroid treatment is easily made.

The idea is that Multiple Sclerosis steroid treatment which involves injecting synthetic glucocorticosteroids derived from cortisone and just slightly altered will amplify the effect of the natural hormone and relieve the symptoms better.  And that is exactly what has been shown in trials.  These synthetic formulations (Solu-Medrol being the most popular) are even more effective than the natural ones.  So if all of the above symptoms can be reduced naturally, MS steroid treatment makes a lot of sense.


What is the trade-off?


Like all MS therapies, there are side effects to consider and the side effects of Multiple Sclerosis steroid treatment are significant. They include weight gain, seizures, psychosis, headaches, vomiting, severe nausea, acne, and many more.  They vary with the individual, so each patient will have to decide if the trade off is worth it for them. Many decide the symptom relief, and the increased time between relapses is worth it. Discuss any treatment decision with your doctor.