Due to the variety of symptoms it presents, multiple sclerosis is a disease that’s notoriously difficult to pin down. The National MS Society reports nearly 1 million Americans, and 2.5 million people worldwide, are living with MS and approximately 200 new cases are diagnosed each week. Once diagnosed, often after several frustrating misdiagnoses and false starts, chiropractic care may help with the ongoing pain and balance issues. If you or someone you know lives with MS, Dr. Chani Henderson of Family & Sports Chiropractic Clinic is here for you.
The MS Foundation describes the disease as a breakdown in communication. They suggest you think of it as a delivery system, like your most recent Amazon order. “Your nervous system is like a network of ‘roads’ running to every part of your body. Your brain uses these ‘roads’ to send ‘packages’–nerve signals that instruct the body what to do—throughout your body every second of the day. But due to the ‘road damage’ caused by MS, some signals will be slowed down, and some may not get delivered at all. Because this network of nerves delivers instructions throughout your system, MS can affect you in dozens of different ways. The symptoms can affect your senses, mind, and body.”
This is because MS causes your body to attack its own central nervous system. Especially targeting myelin, say doctors. This is “the fatty substance around the nerve fibers. Myelin is necessary for the brain to send messages to other parts of the body and to receive them from other body systems. When the myelin is damaged, messages are slowed down or even interrupted, causing the symptoms we see.”
Patients may find themselves experiencing double or blurred vision, hearing impairment, diminished smell and taste, and numbness, burning, or itching in the hands. Memory, mood, and personality traits can also be impacted as are muscles, nervous system issues, and other bodily functions.
Medical professionals explain that “There is no current cure for MS, only management of the symptoms. It is often treated with medication, physical therapy, and lifestyle changes such as daily exercise, managing stress levels, and dietary changes that can help patients mitigate existing symptoms.” Chiropractic treatments are another drug-free option to help with the pain and stiffness.
“Patients with MS who do receive chiropractic care,” these professionals show, “often report positive effects after adjustments such as a rise in energy levels, an increase in mobility, less fatigue, more endurance, better muscle control, and less pain. Being able to diminish the pain can provide patients with a boost in confidence and outlook, which can be important when managing a disease, especially a chronic illness such as MS.”
As with starting any new routine, patients with MS should discuss goals with their primary care doctor and physical therapist. But given the green light, there are some great ways to maintain mobility and pain-free living provided by an MS patient and self-proclaimed sports enthusiast.
- Stretch daily to keep flexibility and range of motion, keep joints healthy, prevent injury, and reduce stress.
- Stay cool. Heat can be an MS trigger so exercise in an air-conditioned gym or look into cooling vests. Always drink plenty of water during exercise. Swimming is the perfect exercise for nearly everyone, especially as it’s hard to overheat in a pool!
- Keep moving when-, where-, and however you can. Walking, workouts, swimming, biking, skiing, horseback riding. Discuss the safest options with your healthcare team then get out there! Or clean your home and office to music and get bopping! Physical activity is your friend.
- Join a group for exercise, shared interests, outdoor nature walks, or strolling to the coffee shop. Community + activity = a great state of mind.
MS is tricky to diagnose but if you have a family history or the above symptoms sound familiar, start a conversation with your doctor today. There isn’t a specific test for MS, but doctors can help rule out other conditions through a differential diagnosis. Then give Dr. Henderson a call at 360.254.0400 or schedule an appointment online to find ways to keep you on your feet. She’s always happy to discuss your medical history, plans, goals, and hopes for the future.