A Visual Guide to Multiple Sclerosis

Learn more from this WebMD slideshow about multiple sclerosis, MS -- its cause, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and other facts.

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12/7/2021 8:30:00 AM

Multiple sclerosis is a mysterious, often frustrating disease. Learn what seems to trigger it, and its effect on the nervous system:

Learn more from this WebMD slideshow about multiple sclerosis , MS -- its cause, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and other facts.

Relapsing-remitting:Symptoms flare during acute attacks, then improve nearly completely or"remit." This is the most common form of MS.Primary-progressive:MS slowly but steadily worsens.Secondary-progressive:Begins as relapsing-remitting type, then becomes progressive.

Progressive-relapsing:The underlying disease steadily worsens. The patient has acute relapses, which may or may not remit. This is the least common form of MS.MS and Weather/22Research suggests that the disease may be more active during the summer months. Heat and high humidity may also temporarily worsen symptoms. Very cold temperatures and sudden changes in temperature may aggravate symptoms, as well.

Treating MS: Medications/22While there is no cure for MS, there are"disease-modifying drugs" that can reduce the frequency and severity of MS attacks. Use can result in less damage to the brain and spinal cord over time, slowing the progression of disability. When an attack does occur, high-dose corticosteroids can help cut it short. Many drugs are also available to manage troubling MS symptoms, such as muscle spasms, incontinence, and pain. headtopics.com

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Treating MS: Pain Management/22About half of people with MS develop some form of pain, either as a result of a short circuit in the nervous system or because of muscle spasms or strain. Doctors may prescribe antidepressants and anticonvulsant medications to ease nerve pain. Pain medicines and anti-spasm drugs may also be used. Muscle pain often responds well to massage and physical therapy. Be sure to discuss the options with your doctor if you find yourself in pain.

Treating MS: Physical Therapy/22If MS affects balance, coordination, or muscle strength, you can learn to compensate. Physical therapy can help strengthen muscles, combat stiffness, and get around more easily. Occupational therapy can help retain coordination in your hands for dressing and writing. And if you're having trouble speaking or swallowing, a speech therapist can help.

Complementary Therapies for MS/22Many nontraditional therapies for MS have not been well studied. Some people say acupuncture relieves symptoms such as muscle spasms and pain, but research to confirm its value isn't conclusive. Others have reported benefits from injections of bee venom, but a rigorous study, lasting 24 weeks, showed no improvements in disability, fatigue, or the number of MS attacks. It's important to inform your doctor about any supplements, special diets, or other therapies you want to try.

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MS and Pregnancy/22Doctors generally agree that it’s safe for women with MS to get pregnant. Research suggests no increased risk of complications during pregnancy. In fact, many women have fewer MS symptoms during pregnancy. High levels of hormones and proteins may suppress the immune system, reducing the odds of a new attack. It's best to talk with your doctors before pregnancy, as certain MS drugs should not be used while pregnant or nursing. In the early months after delivery, the odds for a relapse can rise. headtopics.com

Staying Mobile With MS/22The vast majority of people with MS are able to continue walking, though many benefit from some type of assistive device. Orthotic shoe inserts or leg braces can help increase stability. When one leg is stronger than the other, a cane can help. People with significant problems with their legs may need to use a walker. And a wheelchair or scooter may be best for those who are very unsteady or tire easily.

Adapting Your Home for MS19/22Making a few changes around the home can help you manage daily activities on your own. Install grab bars inside and outside the shower or tub. Use a non-slip mat. Add an elevated seat and safety rails to the toilet. Lower one of your kitchen counters so you can reach it from a sitting position. And get rid of any throw rugs, which are a tripping hazard.

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MS and Exercise/22Exercise can ease stiffness, fatigue, and other symptoms of MS. But overdoing it could make things worse. It's best to start slowly. Try exercising for 10 minutes at a time, then gradually working your way up to a longer session. Before you begin, check with your doctor about what type of activity and level of intensity would be most appropriate. A few possibilities include water aerobics, swimming, tai chi, and yoga.

Outlook for MS/22

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