Living with Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease that can be very unpredictable and life-changing. It is a chronic disease that affects the central nervous system by causing miscommunication from our brain to our body. There is no current cure for this disease, but a neurologist can prescribe medications to relieve MS symptoms and possibly slow down the progression of the disease. Common MS treatments include:

1. Physical Therapy
Many patients with multiple sclerosis find exercise helps to strengthen our muscles in order to improve our balance and coordination. Short walks and getting circulation flowing by moving different parts of the body are all part of MS physical therapy.

2. Occupational therapy
OT for MS treatment can be difficult and stressful. From bathing and dressing ourselves to washing dishes and folding laundry, OT helps patients figure out and cope with new ways of handling everyday tasks. OT may also feature massage.

3. Medications
Medications for MS do not cure the disease, but help to slow the progression and relieve symptoms. Since the disease varies from person to person, different forms of medication can be more useful than others. Most common are disease-modifying drug (DMTs) which help delay progression of MS, reduce the number of relapses, and limit new lesion activity as seen on MRIs.

4. Injections
Injections are usually done at home by the patient or a loved one or caregiver. Your healthcare provider can assist if help is needed. The amount of injections usually depends on the drug itself.

5. Infusions
Infusions are given to MS patients with more severe flare-ups caused by this terrible autoimmune disease. These are typically given over a 3 to 5 day treatment with intravenous corticosteroids and may be followed up with a taper down of oral prednisone.

6. Oral medications
Oral medications are taken daily where injections are less frequent. For this type of MS treatment, it is imperative that we maintain a regular dosing schedule.

7. Counseling and support groups
Whether just diagnosed or we are being forced to cope with new routines due to a severe attack, sometimes patients benefit from talking with other MS patients. Depression is a major side effect of dealing with a chronic disease, like multiple sclerosis, and support groups give the opportunity to express feelings, emotions, concerns, and learning to adjustment with living with a crippling autoimmune disease.