July 28, 2016
What You Need to Know to Help Manage Multiple Sclerosis
There is currently no cure for almost 350,000 people who live with MS in the United States. The disorder stems from the central nervous system, which attacks the brain and spinal cord. The body begins to attack itself when white blood cells (which fight infections) start flooding the nervous system and strip the protective sheath (called myelin) that covers nerves. After white blood cells take away the myelin sheath, nerves cannot conduct electricity very well anymore.
This produces a variety of symptoms like:
- Pain – Most commonly burning, tingling, and cramping pain in the limbs, back, and neck. People, who have MS that affects optic nerves, can also experience pain behind the eyes.
- Tremors – Shaking hands or limbs
- Muscular dysfunction – Cramping, difficulty moving or walking, muscle paralysis or weakness, stiffness, involuntary movements or muscle spasms and clumsiness or lack of coordination
- Fatigue – Both generalized and motor or muscle fatigue
- Intolerance to heat, vertigo, dizziness, feeling of pins and needles, or uncomfortable tingling and/or burning
- Anxiety – Mood swings and depression
- Sexual dysfunction – Erectile dysfunction
- Difficulty urinating – Incontinence or leaking, urge to urinate or hesitation to urinate
- Speech impairment – Slurred speech or impaired voice
- Cognitive impairment- Difficulty focusing, forgetfulness, and impaired attention/concentration
- Heat and cold intolerance-Worsening of MS symptoms due to exposure to extreme temperatures
People with MS develop different symptoms, so it is difficult to predict what patients may feel. Symptoms may resolve altogether, improve to a degree but still be present, not change or even worsen over time.
Here are some ways to help manage multiple sclerosis if you or a loved one are diagnosed with the condition.
Talking to Your Doctor about Medication
Symptoms can be managed by medications given via injections, infusions or pills. Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health works with patients with MS to provide the best quality of life possible.
Living Life to the Fullest
Overall, patients with MS can live normal full life spans. While it’s difficult to plan how MS symptoms may affect the individual personally, it is important to not allow the illness to stop one from achieving his/her goals or experiencing new things. The majority of patients are still able to work, function fully in the community, raise families, and remain physically active.
Combating Symptoms with Healthy Choices
Sometimes symptoms disappear altogether. In these instances, patients regain control of their movements and function. Many patients find that changing their diet to exclude junk foods and include healthier options like fish, vegetables, and whole grains potentially contribute to better overall health and wellness. Routine exercise, emotional/spiritual wellness, Vitamin D supplementation, avoiding smoking, and avoiding or controlling vascular risk factors (e.g. high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease, and lung disease) are, as recommended in the six pillars of brain health, healthy approaches that can reduce MS Disease and make patients feel better!
Patients with MS seen at the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health for routine MS care have the option of participating in a Health and Wellness program that is led by MS neurologist Dr. Carrie Hersh. “Patients with MS often have the sense that their disease is out of control. These wellness practices provide a way for these folks to take back some of this control and feel like they are contributing to their overall health,” says Dr. Hersh.
Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health strives to advance the development of treatment and therapies to help patients with MS remain independent and symptom-free for as long as possible.
Learn more about our clinical trial program and how you can get involved.