What to Know about MS Medication Side Effects

By Ann Pietrangelo
Reviewed by Dana Cooper, M.D.
November 30, 2022

If you have multiple sclerosis (MS), you’re probably familiar with disease-modifying therapies (DMTs). The goal of these therapies is to prevent relapses and improve overall quality of life. When it comes to DMTs and other medications you may take to treat MS symptoms, their effectiveness depends on consistently taking them as prescribed—but that can be a challenge if a medication causes unpleasant side effects.

Side effects are a common reason some people might be tempted to skip doses or stop taking their medication, research says. And some people may be reluctant to start a potentially helpful medication because they are concerned about possible side effects.

For any medication, it’s important to balance the potential risk of side effects with the benefit, experts say. Before prescribing MS medications, Sammita Satyanarayan, M.D., a board-certified neurologist at Mount Sinai in New York City, advises patients on the most common side effects that can occur. That way, they can decide together which drug may be the best one to try. “However,” she says, “that isn’t to say that every person will even experience side effects, or that others’ experiences will be predictive of how you feel with the medication.”