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Physical therapy for multiple sclerosis

What is multiple sclerosis?

The central nervous system consists of the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves, which are surrounded and insulated by a fatty substance called myelin. In patients with multiple sclerosis, an abnormal immune system response causes inflammation that damages myelin and thus the nerve fibers themselves.

This damage can cause the central nervous system to alter messaging to the rest of the body or even stop messaging completely, producing a number of neurological symptoms that vary from patient to patient. Common symptoms include fatigue, numbness in the body, face, or extremities, dizziness, pain, vision problems, and muscle spasms. In the most severe cases, MS is completely debilitating.

While MS is not curable, comprehensive care programs can help to slow the course of the disease, treat MS attacks, manage and reduce the symptoms, and improve patients’ daily functioning.

Source: National MS Society

Multiple sclerosis symptoms

No two patients experience identical MS symptoms, and some patients may find their own symptoms highly unpredictable from day to day. The first sign of MS is often clinically isolated syndrome (CIS), a 24-hour episode of neurological symptoms that can cause numbness or tingling in the extremities and pain or obscured vision in one or both eyes.

After CIS, patients typically experience primary MS symptoms, which occur as a result of ongoing damage to the myelin. The most common primary MS symptoms include bladder and bowel issues such as frequent urination and constipation, lack of coordination and trouble walking, lightheadedness, emotional changes, fatigue, eye problems, muscle spasms, and vaginal dryness or erectile dysfunction.

Secondary and tertiary symptoms emerge as a result of primary symptoms. These include loss of muscle tone due to fatigue and difficulty walking, bladder infections due to problems with urination, emotional problems, and overall decrease in quality of life.

The most common symptoms of multiple sclerosis include:

  • Fatigue
  • Muscle spasms
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Weakness
  • Vision problems
  • Depression

Source: WebMD

What causes multiple sclerosis?

The exact cause of MS is unknown, but several risk factors are believed to contribute to the condition. For example, MS has been shown to occur more frequently in populations far the equator. Further, low vitamin D levels have been identified as a risk factor for MS, which may help explain why regions further from the equator are at greater risk.

In addition, some behavioral factors such as smoking and childhood obesity appear to increase patients’ risk of developing MS. It’s also believed that childhood mononucleosis may have some connection to later development of MS. Genetics may also play a role. While MS is not an inherited disease, meaning that it’s not passed down through generations, risk of developing the condition is higher if an immediate family member has it.

The most common causes of multiple sclerosis include:

  • Geography
  • Lack of vitamin D
  • Mononucleosis
  • Childhood obesity
  • Smoking
  • Genetics

Source: National MS Society

Physical therapy for multiple sclerosis

Because MS affects each patient differently and symptoms can change over time, a physical therapist must tailor and adjust a treatment plan that addresses all of a patient’s needs. The physical therapist must also communicate with other members of the patient’s care team, as MS is a disease that affects every aspect of daily life. However, the goal of physical therapy for MS will remain the same: help the patient to achieve and maintain a higher quality of life.

A PT will make an initial assessment upon meeting to establish a health baseline and understand the patient’s specific goals. With that knowledge, the PT can formulate a treatment plan that includes stretching, home exercises, controlled position changes, and energy management techniques to reduce symptoms and improve functioning over time.

Source: MultipleSclerosis.net

Luna’s physical therapists treat multiple sclerosis
in the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles

Luna employs physical therapists with the experience, expertise, and empathy necessary to treat patients suffering from multiple sclerosis. Our licensed and certified physical therapists combine proven techniques with tailored routines to produce MS treatment plans that work for your goals, symptoms, and schedule.

Best of all, with Luna, patients can receive physical therapy in the comfort of their homes, or wherever else they need it, at any time. Our physical therapists come to you — it’s physical therapy, delivered.

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