Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a neurological condition which affects around 100,000 people in the UK. Once diagnosed, MS stays with you for life, but treatments and specialists can help you to manage the symptoms. Most people are diagnosed between the ages of 20-40, but it can affect younger and older people too. Almost twice as many women have MS than men.
The exact cause of MS isn’t known, but it is a condition of the central nervous system, where the coating around nerve fibres, called myelin, becomes damaged. Scars or ‘plaques’ then form in the brain and spinal cord. These prevent the nervous system from sending messages effectively and cause a range of symptoms.
There are 3 types of MS:
- Relapsing Remitting – 85% of people have this type of MS, where symptoms come and go. There is a distinct attack of worsening symptoms (a relapse) and then the symptoms either partially or fully go away (a remit).
- Secondary Progressive – most people who have relapsing remitting MS will go on to develop secondary progressive MS. Over time, their symptoms no longer improve or ‘remit’ and the disease progresses.
- Primary Progressive – from the outset, people with primary progressive MS experience a continued gradual worsening of their symptoms.
What are the symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis (MS)?
Multiple Sclerosis affects everyone differently. Even people with the same type of MS won’t always experience the same symptoms in the same way.
These symptoms include:
- Problems with vision
- Problems with balance
- Muscle stiffness and weakness
- Muscle spasms and tightness in the limbs
- Altered sensation
- Problems with memory, behaviour and thought processing
- Bladder and bowel problems
- Speech and swallowing difficulties
How can neurological physiotherapy help with Multiple Sclerosis?
Being diagnosed with MS is a life-changing event and many people living with the condition face difficulties and disabilities. MS affects the way the brain functions to differing degrees, and produces a range of symptoms which are different for each person. However, the brain is very adaptable.
A neurological physiotherapist can help you retrain your brain if you are living with MS. Ideally, physiotherapy should begin as soon as possible following your initial diagnosis to allow you to reach your full potential and limit the progression of your symptoms. However, months or even years after your diagnosis, physiotherapy can help you maintain your current lifestyle, prevent deterioration or help you make improvements.
At your Initial Assessment, we will perform a full and detailed analysis of your symptoms and suggest the most appropriate physio treatment to meet your goals.
Specifically, neurological physiotherapy can help you to:
- Reduce muscle spasms
- Reduce stiffness
- Improve balance and walking
- Reduce the risk of falls
- Increase strength
- Retain normal movement and mobility
- Increase energy levels
- Educate you about MS and your symptoms
Treatment for MS is mostly based on exercises combined with ‘hands on’ physiotherapy and can be provided as soon and as often as required. This can play a key role in helping you maintain your abilities as much as you can and for as long as possible.
The treatment may include:
- Stretches to maintain joint range of movement
- Exercises to maintain strength, coordination and balance
- Rehabilitation and strategies to maintain abilities with daily activities
- Maintaining good posture
- Advice to family and carers
- Referral to other health professionals for equipment, medical support or targeted therapy such as speech and language, orthotics and nutrition.