All About Multiple Sclerosis

More MS news articles for November 2002

Fatigue Number One Symptom/Issue/Concern For People Living With MS

Nov. 20, 2002

Fatigue was overwhelmingly the number one issue people living with multiple sclerosis (MS) cope with on a daily basis, according to an independent survey conducted by Market Measures/Cozint. Of the 400 people living with MS who were surveyed, 91 percent reported they had experienced fatigue in the last year.

What exactly is fatigue?

Fatigue can be one of the most frustrating aspects of MS because it is often misunderstood. Fatigue is a subjective lack of physical and/or mental energy that is perceived by the individual caregiver to interfere with desired activities. In MS, fatigue often is not the "tired-at-the-end-of-the-day" feeling most people experience. Instead, people with MS describe it as an overwhelming exhaustion in which their arms and legs feel like weights. With MS fatigue, getting dressed becomes a major ordeal. Some level of fatigue affects the majority of people living with MS and is an issue physicians within the MS community are constantly working to address with their patients.

"Fatigue is consistently the number one issue facing my patients with MS," said Ben Thrower, M.D., of the Shepherd Center in Atlanta. "The MS community is currently researching the connection between MS and fatigue. Some patients have found that their therapy selection can make a huge difference, and fatigue is no longer an issue."

Analysis of the Market Measures/Cozint survey data found that people taking COPAXONE(R) (glatiramer acetate injection), the only non-Interferon therapy, were most satisfied with the way their medication is not associated with typical MS therapy side effects, such as flu-like symptoms, depression, and anxiety. COPAXONE(R)-users were more likely to maintain their normal daily activities. In comparison, a study conducted at the MS Centre at Karolinska Institutet, Huddinge University in Stockholm, found that fatigue was the primary side effect of two of the Interferon-beta therapies used in treating multiple sclerosis.

Is fatigue an issue for everyone living with MS?

While fatigue is an issue for many people living with MS, some are finding strategies for minimizing it. Wendy Booker, a marathon runner and mountain climber who lives on the north shore of Boston, refuses to let MS stand in her way and instead credits the disease with motivating her to consider new challenges she never thought possible.

When Booker was diagnosed with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) in June 1998, she knew very little about the disease or its effects. Her biggest fear was that she would lose the ability to do the one thing she loved most -- run. Unlike others living with MS, Booker has not experienced the extreme fatigue or other debilitating side effects that often come with MS. While individual results may vary, she believes this is because she manages her MS with a healthy diet, an ambitious exercise program, plenty of rest, a positive attitude, and a daily MS medication.

"I want to see how hard I can push back at my MS," Booker says. "Being diagnosed with MS is a life-changing event, and we can either change for the better or not."

In the last three years, Wendy has run two marathons, taught multiple aerobics classes and attempted to be the first known woman living with MS to summit the highest peak in North America -- Mt. McKinley. Although she and her team were unable to reach the top due to bad weather, it did not stop her from moving on to yet another challenge, the 2002 New York City Marathon.

On Nov. 3, Booker joined more than 30,000 runners to complete her third race. For her, winning not only meant crossing the finish line, it also represented another example of her continuing stand against her MS.

"I have always been a very active person," said Booker. "After being diagnosed, I was afraid I would have to give up that lifestyle. Instead, I began taking a daily injection that has helped me not only continue to live my life, but also allowed me to keep my MS in check so I can take on new challenges."

Advances in Medicine

Although neurologists still do not know why fatigue is an issue for patients with MS, they do know that some things such as initiating a drug therapy can help make a difference. Fortunately, advances in medicine have led physicians to treatments that can modify the immune processes thought to be responsible for relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis.

One of these therapies, COPAXONE(R) (glatiramer acetate injection), has been shown not to increase the fatigue level in MS patients. For people like Booker who deal with MS on a daily basis, this is good news. Shortly after her diagnosis, she began taking COPAXONE(R), which also has been shown to help reduce the frequency of relapses in people with RRMS. While individual results may vary, Booker has not suffered a relapse since 1998. Two of the other FDA-approved immunomodulatory treatments for MS have been shown to increase fatigue in MS patients who take them.

Team COPAXONE(R) (glatiramer acetate injection)

Booker is a member of Team COPAXONE(R). She is just one example of someone who is living with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis and pursuing her dreams. Team COPAXONE(R) celebrates the accomplishments of people like Booker who refuse to let MS stand in their way.

Members are working to change the perceptions that society holds of people living with multiple sclerosis. The days when people were sent home and told to go to bed and prepare for a wheelchair are changing. Today a combination of lifestyle changes, medical management, and will power are helping people like Booker to live out their dreams.

"Each mile that I run makes me feel empowered and proud of how I am managing my disease instead of letting it manage me," Booker stated. "The 26.2 miles in the New York Marathon helped me demonstrate that those of us living with MS do not have to give up the things we love. For me, that is running."

COPAXONE(R) is indicated for the reduction of the frequency of relapses in relapsing-remitting MS.

The most common side effects of COPAXONE(R) are redness, pain, swelling, itching, or a lump at the site of injection, flushing, chest pain, weakness, infection, pain, nausea, joint pain, anxiety, and muscle stiffness. These reactions are usually mild and seldom require professional treatment. Patients should tell their doctor about any side effects.

Some patients report a short-term reaction right after injecting COPAXONE(R). This reaction can involve flushing (feeling of warmth and/or redness), chest tightness or pain with heart palpitations, anxiety, and trouble breathing. These symptoms generally appear within minutes of an injection, last about 15 minutes, and go away by themselves without further problems.

After injecting COPAXONE(R) (glatiramer acetate injection), patients should call their doctor right away if they develop hives, skin rash with irritation, dizziness, sweating, chest pain, trouble breathing, severe pain at the injection site or other uncomfortable changes in their general health. Patients should make no more injections until their doctor tells them to begin again.

Teva Neuroscience, Inc. markets COPAXONE(R). COPAXONE(R) is a registered trademark of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. Teva Neuroscience, Inc. is a subsidiary of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.

Call 1-800-887-8100 or log onto for more information about COPAXONE(R), Team COPAXONE(R), or multiple sclerosis.

See additional important information at or call 1-800-887-8100 for electronic releases. For hardcopy releases, please see enclosed full prescribing information.

The Multiple Sclerosis Patient Study I by Market Measures/Cozint was conducted in 2002. The survey was a self-administered Internet questionnaire completed by self-reported people living with MS. The survey evaluated responses from 400 patients.

SOURCE Teva Neuroscience, Inc. Web Site:

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