I just received the results of my latest MRI. I have had 4 since my MS diagnosis- relapsing remitting. They were all the same as my initial scan. However, this MRI now shows damage in my cervical region, which I didn't have before. Does this mean that Avonex is no longer helping me?
Yours is one of the burning questions we all have about our therapies and our MRI results. Avonex, along with all MS disease-modifying therapies, was designed to slow progression, fight inflammation, reduce the number of relapses and new lesions. However, our therapies do not halt the disease all together. Most of us will continue to decline and accumulate new lesions over time.
How do you determine whether your therapy is no longer working? Discuss this with your neuro, for one. Listen to your body and track your relapses and disabilities. You have a new cervical lesion now--but how are your physical symptoms? The same? Worse? A new lesion simply means that your immune system couldn't heal some recent inflammation and a scar has formed. But if you're hold your own disability-wise, Avonex might indeed still be doing its job.
Personally, I don't put much emphasis on lesion load in itself being an indicator that the disease is becoming aggressive and a change of therapy is in order. We have MS, and that's what MS does. It attacks our myelin all the time, inflammation is constantly going on even if we can't feel it. Most of the time, our immune systems can keep up with it, heal the inflammation and keep a lesion from forming. Drugs like Avonex can help with that in various ways, but none of them will completely prevent the inflammation and scarring from happening.
For me, lesion load has had nothing to do with my degree of disability, nor has it changed with every flare. But a lot of patients develop new lesions each time they flare, we're all different that way.
It's best to discuss your concerns with your neuro. A change in therapy is your decision, always. If you want to seriously consider another therapy, do internet research on the newest therapies and discuss them with your doctor, there are several new oral therapies available now. It's going to be trial and error, finding a therapy that works for you. You really can't make a mistake. If you change to another therapy and can't tolerate the side effects or it doesn't do what it should, you can always go back to Avonex.
I hope you'll talk to your doctor about your concerns and let us know what you've decided to do next.
Thanks , Kim. I just received the news today. I have an apt with my neuro on Friday and will discuss it more then.( FYI, I have never had any major side effects on the Avonex, and haven't had any major relapses, except balance issues) Thanks again, Kim!! You are a wonderful help!!
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