What is Multiple Sclerosis?
Multiple Sclerosis is a chronic and erratic progressive disease that puts the CNS (Central Nervous System) out of action by damaging the myelin sheaths of the neurons (i.e., nerve cells). Damage of the sheath causes interruption in the information flow to and from the nervous system that in turn impairs speech and muscle coordination, blurs vision and causes numbness and fatigue.
What causes Multiple Sclerosis?
MS is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues (in this case the myelin sheaths that covers the nerve cells). The proper cause of the disease is yet unknown. Some of the following factors are possible causes of the disease:
- The myelin sheath is composed of fatty acids that covers and protects the nerve fibres in the nervous system. An abnormal immune-mediated response attacks the sheath and destroys them causing the disruption in information flow.
- Some studies reveal people born farther from the equator are usually mostly affected with MS. Evidence also suggest that vitamin D may help protect against immune-mediated diseases like MS. Hence higher levels of vitamin D in the body produced naturally may help reduce risks of acquiring Multiple Sclerosis.
- Smoking has been observed to increase the risks of Multiple Sclerosis. Smoking also assists in speedy progression and increasing severity of the disease. It is advisable to quit smoking before or after the onset of MS.
- A family history of Multiple Sclerosis increases the risk of an individual developing the disease. MS is not hereditary but a parent or sibling affected with the disease puts an individual at risk of acquiring MS.
Symptoms of MS:
Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis are erratic and vary for every individual. MS can affect any part of the body. There are periods of relapses and remissions. Common symptoms include:
- Blurry vision
- Temporary loss of vision
- Pain in the eye
- Sudden flashes of light
- Double vision or Diplopia
- Numbness or tingling in different body parts
- Muscle spasms
- Stiff muscles
- Tremor in limbs
- Balance and coordination
- Stabbing sensation in the limbs and face
- Joint pains especially in the lower back region
- Difficulty in swallowing food and speaking
- Incontinence issues
- Recurrent infection in the urinary tract
- Cognitive issues
- Difficulty in multi-tasking
- Lack of reasoning and processing information
- Depression and anxiety
- Sudden mood swings
Most of these symptoms are not specific to MS.
Physiotherapy for Multiple Sclerosis
- Rehabilitation helps patients to maintain effective and independent performance of activities of daily living.
- Physiotherapy helps to improve functional ability and re-establish mobility.
- It increases development and prevents disability as long as possible.
- Certain exercises carried out by physiotherapists helps maintain clarity in speech and ease swallowing.
- Cognitive rehabilitation helps solve difficulties in thinking and insight.
- Physiotherapy helps improve body balance.
- Physiotherapists can assist in tackling exhaustion and pain in the body.
- A trained physiotherapist can teach the use of crutches or other mobility aids if needed.
- Exercises done under the guidance of a physiotherapist can help to increase muscle strength and improve range-of-motion.
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