There are various kinds of health conditions and disorders that affect you in several ways. Chronic diseases are said to be the worst in this category. They disturb your physical and mental health adversely, and sometimes, the patient becomes completely depressed impaired. Among these disorders, Multiple Sclerosis affects a lot of people.
Multiple Sclerosis is a chronic disease that progresses gradually. It mainly affects young adults. Approximately 400,000 people in the United States and 2.5 million people worldwide have been diagnosed with MS. However, its effects widely vary from person to person. There is no particular cure for this disorder, but it can be controlled and managed with medications and rehabilitation.
What Is Multiple Sclerosis?
Multiple sclerosis is a disorder that involves the loss of myelin. It is a material that covers and protects the nerves in the body’s central nervous system. In the absence of myelin, nerves cannot properly communicate with each other. Thus, MS symptoms vary from person to person, as it depends on what part of the nervous system is affected. It can also include structures that control movement, sensation, and mental and emotional processes. Often, the first sign you may observe is a change in vision, such as double vision. Almost all people with MS report difficulty walking, and other body movements.
According to NIH, “Experts think there are currently 250,000 to 350,000 people in the United States diagnosed with MS. This estimate suggests that approximately 200 new cases are diagnosed every week. Studies of the prevalence (the proportion of individuals in a population having a particular disease) of MS indicate that the rate of the disease has increased steadily during the twentieth century.”
Multiple sclerosis is rarely fatal. However, its symptoms can be severe that may include difficulty breathing, injury due to falls, and a general lack of mobility.
Common Symptoms & Signs
Fatigue that does not go away with rest
Balance issues and difficulty walking
Stiffness and spasms in your legs and arms
Bladder or bowel troubles like urgency or leaking
Memory and thinking troubles
Pain and other unpleasant sensations
Dizziness & vertigo
Speech and swallowing problems
Though there is no specific cure for MS, you can effectively manage and control this disease with medications and rehabilitation. As the signs and symptoms differ for each person, their treatment also differs.
Physical therapy has proved to be effectively helpful in dealing with MS in the most efficient manner. Moreover, it specifically addresses mobility issues.
According to Therapy Choice, “The rehabilitation process is critical to those suffering from MS. Physical therapy helps to address the weakness, the range of motion loss, balance issues, transfers and walking. Physical therapy can help significantly in improving function and independence in a person with MS.”
Physical therapy effectively addresses the following MS problems.
One of the symptoms you can observe in multiple sclerosis is the foot drop. It affects your range of motion. It may lead to diminished ambulation and falls, which can lead to prolonged hospitalization and rehabilitation. Foot drop is not only common in people with MS, but it is also inevitable. Physical therapists design the most relevant stretching and exercise programs to help you increase the range of motion and mobility. These exercises help you retain the ankle to function properly during gait and balance activities.
Gait & Balance Dysfunction
People with multiple sclerosis often and commonly suffer from gait difficulties. They can walk short distances without much difficulty, but over long distances, they experience severe impairment related to walking. Physical therapists examine the patient with MS early on the disease’s course. As the gait dysfunction is multifactorial by nature, they need to have a meticulous gait evaluation to perform specific and appropriate interventions.
Balancing problems are complex in MS, which are caused by a combination of factors like weakness, stiffness, sensory loss, visual and vestibular loss, motor control impairments, and cognitive issues. The concerned physical therapist will carry out a thorough balance evaluation to expose factors responsible for the balance loss and allow for treatment to address them.
Weakness & Stiffness
Weakness and stiffness are the common factors in MS. CNS dysfunction can be the consequence for the same. They both are interrelated. Weakness can cause stiffness and stiffness can cause weakness. A physical therapist can determine whether the weakness and stiffness are indications of CNS dysfunction, secondary disuse, or some combination thereof.
They design stretching and strengthening exercises and tailor them to the patient’s individual needs. However, stretching should be gentle and prolonged.
Fatigue is one of the common symptoms that a physical therapist will address in a patient with MS. As, we know that MS gradually progresses, it reduces physical and mental energy, which results in fatigue. Movement becomes more difficult and exhausting, which leads to a cycle of further immobility and worsening fatigue.
Physical therapists design standard exercise programs to increase fitness and mobility. However, often, these programs are ineffective because the patient becomes too fatigued to exercise for more than a few minutes at a time. Therefore, it is advisable to do these exercises with rest breaks.
Let us take a look at other few significant tips that can help in managing this disease in the most efficient manner.
The journey to dealing with multiple sclerosis has already begun. But, you need to find motivation for fighting it out. For this, you should be motivated to do the recommended exercises religiously to subside the pain effectively and resolve other relevant issues.
Stretching is something that can be helpful in relieving the pain and stiffness of the muscles. You can easily make yourself stretch. Flexibility exercises that include muscle stretching and range of motion exercises can help in preventing the shrinkage of muscles and also reduce the severity of spasticity symptoms. Dedicate at least 10-15 minutes to do your stretching exercises.
As we know, MS symptoms vary from person to person you can try doing other forms of exercises like yoga or Pilates. Also, you can go swimming and walking if you are comfortable. Try different ways of working out to manage your pain and troubles.
MS research continues to support the importance of exercise, particularly Cardio. It effectively helps in improving fatigue and overall quality of life. Also, it raises your heart rate to influence the progression of the disease, decreasing damage to the brain and brain atrophy as well. Even if you are in a wheelchair, you can likely do seated aerobic workouts. Do not give up.
Multiple Sclerosis can be beatable someday. Never become depressed or negative about your condition, as it can have adverse effects on your overall health. Also, never give up doing your set of exercises, which can help you manage your pain on a daily basis.
A diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis doesn’t necessarily mean the person will experience severe disability. With proper medication and physical therapy management, MS can be effectively managed over a lifetime.