There is no cure for Multiple Sclerosis. There are several medications thought to slow the progression of the disease. In some people, these medications can reduce the frequency and severity of flare-ups, and may help reduce the number of brain and spinal cord lesions. These medications are fairly new, so it is unknown if they help reduce the extent of disability from MS
One of these medications is Copaxone. This injectable medication is used to treat Relapsing-Remitting MS. It has no effect on the three other types of Multiple Sclerosis.
Researchers are not completely sure how Copaxone works to slow MS progression. It is believed that the drug prevents damage causing cells from forming, and at the same time stimulating the beneficial cells to help reduce the damage in the areas with lesions.
Those who choose Copaxone therapy for MS give themselves a subcutaneous injection (shot under the skin) every day. The medication is dispensed in pre-filled syringes. Measuring is not necessary. Patients using this therapy will be taught how to give injections and for most people the entire procedure takes less than one minute.
As with any medication, there are side effects associated with Copaxone. The most common side effects are swelling, redness, pain, itching or a lump at the injection site. Some people experience a break down of the fatty tissue in the area they take injections.
Just as common are general body reactions like chest pain, weakness, nausea, joint pain, anxiety, muscle stiffness, and feeling flushed. According to the makers of Copaxone, these effects are mild and do not usually require medical treatment.
Less common, but more severe side effects include hives, skin rash with irritation, dizziness, sweating, chest pain, trouble breathing, severe injection site pain and general painful or uncomfortable changes in your overall health. Patients experiencing the above side effects should stop taking injections and call their doctor immediately.