Multiple Sclerosis Treatment

  • Treatment

    Regular exercise can help MS patients to maintain strength, balance, and muscle tone, and reduce spasticity. It can also help fight fatigue and depression, both of which affect most people with MS. You should not exercise vigorously during an attack, but rather try to exercise regularly during symptom-free periods. Good exercises include riding a stationary bike, walking, swimming, and stretching. You should plan your day's activities carefully in order to take advantage of fluctuations in energy.

    Prevent fever and avoid exposure to extreme heat, both of which can worsen symptoms.

    Eat a well-balanced diet.

    Your doctor is the best source of information on the drug treatment choices available to you.

    Physical therapy can help MS patients recover from attacks, and can also preserve strength and balance, and ease spasticity. Physical exercise is important both after an attack and during periods of remission to maintain muscular strength. Too much exercise, however, could cause increased weakness, and could actually worsen symptoms. A physical therapist can help you decide how much and what types of exercise you need.

    Studies have shown that women with MS can safely become pregnant and deliver children. Relapses of MS become less common late in pregnancy, although they are more frequent three months after childbirth.

    Because some women with MS are unable to empty their bladders completely, they may develop urinary tract infections (UTIs) that can exacerbate MS symptoms such as spasticity. Drugs are available to treat urinary difficulties; for some women, using a catheter to help empty the bladder may be helpful.

    Depression is common among MS patients. It is unclear, however, whether depression is related to the disease itself, or if it is a side effect of living with chronic illness. Depression treatment for patients with MS is the same as that for depressed people without the disease. Antidepressant drugs and therapy are both helpful, depending on the individual.

    Most patients with MS will have a normal lifespan. However, many patients with MS will gradually become increasingly disabled. Prognosis for MS patients varies widely; a few patients die within months of disease onset, while others survive without disability for 50 years. One in ten patients with MS will not be disabled by the disease. About half of those with MS will still be able to walk after 15 years with the disease, and 30% will still be able to work. Twenty percent of MS patients have no functional impairment 15 years after diagnosis.

    Being female, young at the disease’s onset, and having only sensory symptoms initially are all associated with a favorable prognosis. A person with MS is more likely to become disabled if he or she has frequent attacks initially, if the disease develops after the age of 40, or if the cerebellum or bundle of neurons called the pyramidal tract—both parts of the brain involved in controlling movement—are affected early in the disease.

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