Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system (CNS). It occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks and damages the protective covering of nerve fibers, called myelin, in the brain and spinal cord. A very commonly asked question is ” How does Multiple Sclerosis affect the body? “. Keep reading to learn more!
The myelin sheath is a protective covering that surrounds nerve fibers in the central nervous system (CNS). It is made up of a fatty substance called myelin, which is produced by specialized cells called oligodendrocytes in the CNS. The myelin sheath acts as an insulator and helps to speed up the transmission of electrical impulses along the nerve fibers.
The myelin sheath is important for the proper functioning of the nervous system. When it is damaged, nerve impulses can slow down or disrupt communication between the brain and other parts of the body, leading to a wide range of neurological symptoms.
In MS, when the myelin sheath is damaged, it can cause a wide range of symptoms. The severity and frequency of symptoms can vary widely between individuals with MS. Some of the most common symptoms of MS include:
- Muscle weakness and stiffness: MS can cause weakness and stiffness in the muscles, which can affect mobility and balance.
- Numbness and tingling: MS can cause numbness and tingling in the limbs, face, and other parts of the body.
- Vision problems: MS can affect the optic nerve, which can cause blurred or double vision, loss of vision, or pain behind the eyes.
- Fatigue: MS can cause extreme tiredness and lack of energy, even after minimal physical or mental activity.
- Cognitive problems: MS can affect cognitive functions such as memory, concentration, and problem-solving.
- Bladder and bowel problems: MS can cause problems with bladder and bowel function, such as incontinence or constipation.
- Emotional changes: MS can cause mood swings, depression, and anxiety.
The symptoms of MS can be unpredictable and can vary in severity over time. Treatment can help manage symptoms and slow the progression of the disease, but there is currently no cure for MS.
What Treatments or Therapies Help Multiple Sclerosis?
The exact cause of MS is not known, but it is thought to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors. There is currently no cure for MS, but treatments are available that can help manage symptoms, slow the progression of the disease, and improve quality of life.
The choice of treatment depends on the type and severity of MS, as well as the individual’s symptoms and overall health. Some options include:
Disease-modifying therapies (DMTs): These are medications that are used to slow down the progression of MS, reduce the frequency and severity of relapses, and help preserve cognitive function. There are several different types of DMTs available, including injectable medications, oral medications, and infusion therapies. As a medication, DMTs may cause side effects, which can vary depending on the medication. Common side effects include flu-like symptoms, injection site reactions, and gastrointestinal problems.
Overall, the decision to use DMTs should be made in consultation with a healthcare provider, taking into account the individual’s specific needs, goals, and potential risks and benefits.
Symptom management: MS can cause a wide range of symptoms, and there are several medications and therapies that can help manage these symptoms. For example, medications can be used to reduce muscle spasms, pain, and bladder and bowel problems. Physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy can also be helpful in managing symptoms.
Lifestyle changes: Certain lifestyle changes, such as regular exercise, a healthy diet, and stress management techniques, can help improve overall health and reduce the risk of MS relapses.
Exercise: Exercise can be an important part of managing multiple sclerosis (MS), as it can help improve strength, balance, flexibility, and overall quality of life. However, the best exercise for MS can vary depending on the individual’s symptoms and overall health. Some examples are aerobic exercise, strength training, yoga or tai chi, and water based exercise.
Diet: There is no one-size-fits-all diet for multiple sclerosis (MS), and the best diet for MS may vary depending on the individual’s symptoms and overall health. However, research suggests that a healthy, balanced diet can help improve overall health and well-being for people with MS. Here are some general principles of a healthy diet that may be beneficial for people with MS:
- Focus on whole foods: A diet rich in whole, nutrient-dense foods can help provide the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants needed for optimal health. This includes fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats.
- Avoid processed foods: Processed foods, such as packaged snacks and sugary drinks, are often high in sugar, salt, and unhealthy fats. These foods can contribute to inflammation and may worsen MS symptoms.
- Consider an anti-inflammatory diet: Inflammation is thought to play a role in the development and progression of MS. Eating an anti-inflammatory diet, which includes foods such as fatty fish, nuts, seeds, and olive oil, may help reduce inflammation in the body.
- Supplement as needed: Some people with MS may have specific nutrient deficiencies, such as vitamin D or vitamin B12. In these cases, supplementation may be necessary to meet the body’s needs.
- Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of water can help keep the body hydrated and may help reduce MS-related symptoms such as fatigue and constipation.
Stress Management: Stress is a common trigger for MS symptoms, so it is important for people with MS to learn stress management techniques to help them manage their condition. Here are some stress management techniques that may be helpful for people with MS. Some include meditation, breathing exercises, yoga, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), and regular exercise.
Rehabilitation: Rehabilitation programs can help individuals with MS maintain or improve their physical and cognitive abilities. They can also help to manage symptoms, promote independence, and improve mental health. These programs may include physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy.
Alternative therapies: Some people with MS find that alternative therapies can be helpful in managing their symptoms and improving their quality of life. Here are some alternative therapies that some people with MS may find helpful:
- Acupuncture: Acupuncture involves the insertion of thin needles into specific points on the body. Some studies suggest that acupuncture may help relieve pain, fatigue, and other MS-related symptoms.
- Massage therapy: Massage therapy involves the manipulation of soft tissues to promote relaxation and relieve muscle tension. Some people with MS may find massage therapy helpful in reducing muscle spasms and improving overall relaxation.
- Mind-body therapies: Mind-body therapies, such as yoga, tai chi, and meditation, can help improve flexibility, balance, and relaxation. These practices may also help reduce stress and improve mood.
- Herbal remedies: Some herbal remedies, such as turmeric, ginkgo biloba, and omega-3 fatty acids, may have anti-inflammatory properties that could potentially help reduce inflammation in the body.
- It is important for individuals with MS to talk to their healthcare provider before starting any new alternative therapy, as some therapies may not be appropriate for certain symptoms or health conditions.
Regenerative Medicine for Multiple Sclerosis
Regenerative medicine, also known as stem cell therapy, is a rapidly evolving area of research and has shown promise in the treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS). Stem cells are unspecialized cells that have the potential to develop into many different types of cells to help repair damaged tissues or cells and reduce inflammation.
Mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) therapy is a type of regenerative medicine that uses stem cells derived from various tissues, including bone marrow, adipose tissue, and umbilical cord tissue, to treat a variety of conditions, including multiple sclerosis (MS).
Several clinical trials have investigated the use of MSC therapy in MS, and some have shown promising results. MSCs have anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory properties, which may be beneficial in the treatment of MS. MSCs can also promote the regeneration of damaged tissue, which may help improve symptoms.
One small clinical trial published in 2018 showed that treatment with MSCs improved clinical outcomes and reduced inflammation in individuals with MS. Another study published in 2019 showed that MSCs derived from umbilical cord tissue reduced inflammation and improved motor function. As with any medical treatment, the decision to undergo MSC therapy for MS should be an informed decision and with a provider that has experience and has a positive reputation. Would you like to speak with a professional to help answer the question ” How does Multiple Sclerosis affect the body? “. Contact a care coordinator today at Stemedix to learn more!