Multiple Sclerosis: How to Feel and Function at Your Best - dummies

Multiple Sclerosis: How to Feel and Function at Your Best

By Rosalind Kalb, Barbara Giesser, Kathleen Costello

The goal of treating multiple sclerosis (MS) is to help you feel and function well. So, together, you and your healthcare team can identify and implement strategies to manage your symptoms and keep you active, comfortable, and safe.

Manage your MS symptoms

Comprehensive symptom management is the key to keeping you on the go. So if your doctor says that nothing more can be done to control your symptoms, find a different doctor — pronto. Or, you may consider a one-time visit to a comprehensive MS center where the team can give you and your doctor further suggestions. Several medications and management strategies can address virtually every symptom of MS.

Even though you can’t totally eliminate your symptoms, you and your healthcare providers can work together to identify the strategies that provide you with the greatest relief and comfort. The right strategies also help to reduce the risk of problems like infection, bone loss, joint problems, and respiratory problems.

Work with MS rehabilitation specialists

Although rehabilitation strategies help promote function and comfort at any time in MS, rehab is particularly valuable if and when your disease starts to progress significantly. Depending on the level of intervention you need, you may receive rehabilitative services on an outpatient or inpatient basis.

For example, your neurologist may refer you to a physical therapist (PT) or an occupational therapist (OT) for a certain number outpatient sessions, followed by a personalized program for you to implement at home.

Or, you may be referred for a 10- to 14-day inpatient stay at a rehabilitation facility. At a rehab facility, each member of the rehabilitation team gives you a thorough assessment and provides the type of intensive therapy you need. You will also receive a personalized regimen to continue on your own at home.

Stay healthy when you have MS

When your MS starts taking a lot of your time, energy, and focus, you may find that you have a tendency to neglect other aspects of your health. Because you see your neurologist regularly, you may begin to rely on him or her for your general healthcare as well.

But, published research shows that this strategy doesn’t work very well. People who see MS specialist neurologists for all of their care have been found to be in less good health than their peers who see both a neurologist and an internist or family physician.

So, keep in mind that even though your neurologist will be paying close attention to your MS needs, he or she will probably not be checking your weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, and other health parameters. Nor will your neurologist be reminding you about the health screening measures recommended for your age group (for example, chest X-rays, ECGs, mammograms, prostate exams, and colonoscopies).

Having MS doesn’t protect you from developing other health problems. Although it may feel like more than enough to handle, other medical issues can crop up at any time. So, you need to take the same care of your health as anyone else.