Multiple sclerosis is a lifelong condition, which can affect the brain or spinal cord. It can cause a wide range of symptoms, including problems with vision, arm or leg movement, sensation or balance. According to the NHS, it is two to three times more likely in women than men and is usually diagnosed in people in their 20s and 30s. And even to myself. It can be overwhelming in the beginning. You want to sleep. You always want to sleep. You see, I want to sleep. But I am a forthcoming person and I want my life to be full somehow. There is no cure for MS but symptoms can sometimes be managed with painkillers or drugs to reduce nerve inflammation, physical therapy to ease muscle stiffness or medication to slow progression.
There is no cure for MS but thereare a range of treatments available for the relapsing form of the condition, as well as new research-led developments happening all the time, Edwards added. According to the NHS, more than eight in 10 people with MS are diagnosed with the relapsing remitting type.
A person with relapsing remitting MS will have episodes of new or worsening symptoms, which can occur without warning but are sometimes associated with periods of illness or stress. These can worsen and last for days, weeks or months, then slowly improve over a similar time period. Having the right support around you is crucial because when your employer takes time to understand MS, you can enjoy a full working life for as long as you want or are able to. A wonderful job. Relapses are caused by inflammation within the central nervous system, and more severe relapses are typically treated with steroids or ACTH.
People who experience relapses are also likely to experience pseudo-relapses. This is a temporary worsening of symptoms, lasting less than 24 hours, caused by something other than CNS inflammation. Common causes are heat intolerance, infection, and illness. Progression is the accumulation of lasting symptoms over time. This can happen as a result of relapses, when a symptom doesn't entirely go away when the flare-up has ended. But progression can also happen independently of relapse.
In this case, a symptom often comes on slowly, getting more noticeable as time goes on. Some symptoms will come and go. You may feel fine today, but find that your symptoms are 'acting up' tomorrow.
Or you may feel fine in the morning, but be doing poorly by afternoon. Worsening of a symptom you have previously experienced doesn't necessarily signal a relapse, pseudo-relapse, or disease progression.
Sometimes, other health factors contribute, or several symptoms have a synergistic affect, each making the other worse. For example, lack of sleep, poor nutrition, or stress can contribute to chronic fatigue. Fatigue can contribute to cognitive dysfunction and worsen emotional symptoms, such as depression.
When these problems persist more than a day with no other apparent health factors as the cause, or if you experience new or severe symptoms, contact your doctor. In the broadest terms, those diagnosed with progressive MS may expect to experience a steady worsening of symptoms — frequently affecting mobility. However, the rate of that progression varies widely. One study followed people with progressive MS over several decades and noted that at 25 years after diagnosis, a quarter of the participants were still able to walk.
For those with relapsing MS, the prognosis is equally variable. Within 25 years, the majority will transition to the secondary progressive form of the disease, but that does not necessarily equate to developing severe disability. Often, they will not require a wheelchair or other mobility aid any earlier than their peers who do not have MS.
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In some cases, the course of MS during the first five years may provide a clue to the progression of the disease during the next 10 years. Recent studies indicate that 90 percent of patients with minimal disability at five years after onset were still walking without an assistive device after 15 years. There are steps a person can take to fight back against the disease, prevent relapses, and delay progression. These include beginning treatment as early as possible and adhering to their medication schedule, managing their sleep and stress effectively, eating well, staying active, and going tobacco-free.
But, like the many other MS symptoms, pain can be unpredictable and can stem from a number of reasons. MS-related pain may be constant over a long period of time, or it may come and go randomly, with or without other symptoms present. At one time, doctors mistakenly believed that MS was a painless disease. Thankfully, the medical community now has a better understanding of how MS can cause pain and how to treat it. Primary pain symptoms are directly caused by the disease itself.
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Primary pain occurs when nerves are damaged or inflamed. Some examples are:.
In general, primary pain is treated with medications that affect the nerves themselves. These drugs may be classed as anti-seizure or antidepressant medications, but rest assured, they are commonly and effectively used to treat pain in MS. Secondary pain symptoms are often defined as "side effects" of other symptoms or treatment s.
Treatment for secondary pain typically begins with treatment of the underlying cause. Physical therapy has been known to help alleviate pain from secondary symptoms such as spasticity, from falling due to balance issues, or pain from an improperly-fitted assistive device. In cases of chronic pain, referral to a pain management specialist may be helpful. If you have MS and you are in pain, do not always assume that MS is definitely the cause, and definitely do not believe that simply living with the pain is your only option.
For acute pain, see a medical professional as soon as possible. For other types of pain, keep a log of when and where you experienced it, how severe it was on a scale, and how you would describe it: sharp, dull, burning, aching, cramping, sudden, etc.
Also make a note of anything that seems to make the pain better or worse. Then, discuss the log with your doctor.
This will help to identify the cause of the pain, determine whether it is indeed MS-related, and know how best to treat it. While some people with MS must eventually use a wheelchair to maintain their independence, the possibility is less likely than you may think. The course of MS can vary widely, and it is impossible to predict the nature, severity, or timing of progression in a given person.
Some people with MS will have a more progressive disease course than others. Yet, history studies have indicated that, absent of any treatment, only about one-third of people with MS require a wheelchair or mobility aid after 20 years with MS. Today, treatments are available to slow the progression of disability. Some people with MS respond quite well and may have no progression for many years. For others, the treatment may slow, but not stop the progression.
With treatment, your chances of requiring a wheelchair can drastically shrink below that one-third mark. It is important to be active, and to work with your healthcare provider to obtain the most appropriate treatment. In doing so, you will keep disability at bay for as long as possible. There are unusual variants of MS that can be very aggressive and potentially shorten life, but these are not the norm.
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MS tends to affect quality of life, not quantity of life; people with multiple sclerosis often live just as long as those without it, but the symptoms and disease progression can affect how well they live day-to-day. With appropriate treatment and management, these effects on quality of life can be minimized. A diagnosis of MS is not a death sentence.
Multiple sclerosis is not fatal, except in very rare circumstances. During advanced stages of disease progression, it is possible to die from complications related to MS such as infections or pneumonia.
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