Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
Multiple sclerosis (commonly known as MS) is an autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system. Multiple sclerosis affects your brain and spinal cord. It is the coating of your nerve myelin that becomes damaged, causing a range of symptoms from mobility difficulties to blurred vision.
If you are diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, there are many specialist treatments available to help manage your condition and symptoms.
Everyone’s condition is unique. Multiple sclerosis is more common in women than men and is usually diagnosed in adults between 30-50 years of age.
What are the early signs and symptoms of multiple sclerosis?
There are many symptoms that you may experience when you first get your diagnosis: physically, emotionally, mentally, and psychologically.
The severity of symptoms differs greatly between each person, but these are some of the most common:
- Problems with balance
- Bladder dysfunction
- Bowel dysfunction
- Mobility issues
- Sexual dysfunction
- Speech difficulties
- Swallowing issues
- Sleep problems
- General weakness in many areas of your body
- Visual disturbances
A neurologist will diagnose multiple sclerosis. If you see your GP and they think you may have a few of these symptoms, they will refer you to a neurologist.
How is multiple sclerosis diagnosed?
Your neurologist will ask you many questions about your new health issues and symptoms in addition to your past history. Letting them know fully about the pattern of symptoms will really help with a diagnosis.
After a physical examination, they will then check for any issues with your eye movements, leg or hand coordination, sensation, speech, reflexes, and balance.
Even if your neurologist suspects you have multiple sclerosis, their diagnoses cannot be confirmed without an MRI scan of your brain and spinal cord. In order to rule out any other conditions that could be similar to multiple sclerosis, they will ask for some blood tests to check for particular antibodies.
What is the best exercise for multiple sclerosis?
Exercise and physiotherapy is key for you if you want to help improve movement and other functions of your body. A physiotherapist may suggest exercises that will concentrate on a particular area of your body that you are struggling with. They may also give you a more generic programme to help you keep up your muscle strength, activity levels, and general fitness.
If you are finding your condition is affecting normal sporting activities enjoyed in past, they will be able to suggest new ways and techniques for you to stay fit and active or adapt your preferred exercises to suit you.
They will also create a programme of specialist exercises to manage and treat specific issues such as difficulties with balance, posture, joint stiffness, and mobility.
Is swimming good for multiple sclerosis?
When you get your diagnosis the best thing you can do for yourself is to stay as active as possible. When you have multiple sclerosis, exercise is one of the most important parts of your treatment.
There are many exercises that will improve your health and manage your expectations. Swimming is a great way to exercise as it will build up muscle, strength, and endurance.
Carrying out land-based exercises (prescribed by your physiotherapist) in conjunction with water-based exercises is a great way to keep your body as strong as possible. However, it is not for everybody. Those suffering from fatigue may find exercising in the water physically draining. Ultimately, it is down to personal preference.
How physiotherapy can help you if you have been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis
We will do whatever we can to get you on the fastest route to recovery. Some of the treatment methods we use include:
- Strengthening exercises
- Myofascial trigger point release
- Cross-friction massage
- Stretching and range of movement exercises
- Functional exercises