Multiple Sclerosis

What is multiple sclerosis (MS)?

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a neurological condition which affects around 100,000 people in the UK. Although the exact cause isn't known, it is a condition of the central nervous system, where the coating around nerve fibres, called myelin, becomes damaged and scars, or 'plaques', and then forms in the brain and spinal cord. Parts of the nervous system are then unable to send messages effectively and this causes a range of symptoms.

Once diagnosed, MS stays with you for life, but treatments and specialists can help you to manage the symptoms. Most people are diagnosed between the ages of 20-40, but it can affect younger and older people too. Almost twice as many women have MS than men.

There are 3 types of MS:

Relapsing remitting - 85% of people have this type of MS, where symptoms come and go. There is a distinct attack of worsening symptoms (a relapse) and then the symptoms either partially or fully go away (a remit).

Secondary progressive - the majority of people that have relapsing remitting MS will go on to develop secondary progressive MS. Over time, their symptoms no longer improve or 'remit' and the disease progresses.

Primary progressive - from the outset, people with primary progressive MS experience a continued gradual worsening of their symptoms.

How does Mutliple Sclerosis affect people?

Mutliple Sclerosis affects everyone differently, and even people with the same type of MS won't necessarily experience the same symptoms in the same way.

Some common physical symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis include:

  • Problems with vision
  • Problems with balance
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Muscle spasms and tightness in the limbs
  • Altered sensation
  • Pain
  • Problems with memory, behaviour and thought processing
  • Bladder and bowel problems
  • Speech and swallowing difficulties

How can physiotherapy help with Mutliple Sclerosis?

Treatment for MS is mostly exercise based combined with 'hands on' physiotherapy. Our experienced physiotherapists at Physio Matters understand that MS affects everyone differently and your goals will be unique to you.

Physiotherapy should begin as soon as possible following an initial diagnosis to allow you to reach your full potential and limit the progression of your symptoms. Physio Matters can provide physiotherapy assessment and treatment as soon and as often as is required.

During your initial assessment you and your physiotherapist will discuss realistic long and short-term goals. These goals will form the basis of your treatment and will be key to improving your quality of life. The physiotherapists at Physio Matters will usually teach you exercises to be continued between appointments, and your family members and carers too if appropriate.

As well as improving your general health, physiotherapy can help:

  • Reduce muscle spasms
  • Reduce stiffness
  • Improve balance and walking
  • Reduce the risk of falls
  • Increase strength
  • Retain normal movement and mobility
  • Increase energy levels
  • Educate you about MS and your symptoms

Why do I need a neurological physiotherapist?

Neurological physiotherapists are specialists and trained to understand the effects and interactions of Mutliple Sclerosis symptoms. They can identify where rehabilitation should be focused, what aspects of the person's daily life are particularly important to them, and how best to achieve their goals through targeted physiotherapy.

Neurological physiotherapy plays a vital role in ensuring an individual maintains their abilities as much as they can, and for as long as possible.

This may include:

  • Stretches to maintain joint range of movement
  • SExercises to maintain strength, coordination and balance
  • SRehabilitation and strategies to maintain abilities with daily activities
  • SMaintaining good posture
  • SAdvice to family and carers
  • SWhere appropriate, referral to other professionals such as for equipment needs or medical support.

More information

For lots of useful advice and contacts regarding Multiple Sclerosis visit the MS Society website on:

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0161 681 6887
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