physiotherapy for patients with multiple sclerosis

18. November 2021

faqs to physiotherapists about multiple sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disorder, currently affecting over 130,000 in the UK.

With symptoms and effects ranging in each patient, Multiple Sclerosis can be a mild or severely debilitating disease.

But what happens when you have MS?

Your own immune system mistakenly attacks your body’s tissues and organs including those in the brain and spinal cord.

Why this self-attack occurs in some people is unclear, but Multiple Sclerosis has been strongly connected to genetic and environmental factors.

There is no current cure for Multiple Sclerosis, but medication teamed with physiotherapy can help to ease symptoms, assist in reducing the number and severity of attacks (relapses) and slow down disease progression.

With women more likely to be affected than men and most diagnosed between their 20s and 30s, we will explore the benefits and possibilities of physiotherapy treatment on sclerosis.

Read on to find out:

  • What Multiple Sclerosis is, the symptoms and how it can affect a patient
  • The benefits of physiotherapy treatment on sclerosis
  • Exercises that a physiotherapist may prescribe for Multiple Sclerosis patients
  • Guidance on how many sessions are required

What is Multiple Sclerosis?

Though we have briefly discussed MS, in this section we will dive into the details.

Multiple Sclerosis is a chronic, often disabling disease. Causing damage to your central nervous system (CNS) affecting your brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves.

It gradually destroys the protective coating (myelin) that covers nerve fibres and causes a wide range of difficulties in movement, sight, sensation, and cognitive thinking.

Why is it called Multiple Sclerosis?

Sclerosis’ abnormal hardening of body tissues or scarring. This refers to the progressive nerve cell damage caused by MS.

‘Multiple’ involves several parts or elements. This means it can happen multiple times and locations of your CNS, causing related symptoms of MS.

The symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis may be mild or severe. Some people have no symptoms while others may experience significant problems.

Common symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis

The progression and severity of the disease vary from person to person, but for most people, it steadily worsens over time.

People who have MS often experience:

  • Fatigue (overwhelming feeling of exhaustion, tired from completing the smallest tasks)
  • Vision impairment (blurry vision, temporary loss, eye pain or light flashes)
  • Changes in sensation (pins and needles, numbness, or prickling- paresthesia)
  • Pain (neuropathic pain felt from nerve damage or musculoskeletal pain felt in muscle, bones or joints)
  • Cognitive difficulties (trouble in understanding or processing, short attention, stuck on words, issues with remembering)
  • Mobility (clumsiness, affected balance and coordination, muscle tremors, dizziness)

Is there more than one type of MS?

Yes, there are four types of MS but two general categories that Multiple Sclerosis starts.

  1. Relapsing-remitting MS - episodes or new or worsening symptoms. Often associated with stress or illness, relapses occur without warning and can last for a few days to months.
  2. Primary progressive MS- symptoms gradually worsen and amass over several years without periods of remission (although symptoms can appear to stabilise).

MS can interfere with day-to-day activities like walking or talking, with some people needing to use assistive devices like crutches or wheelchairs.

Yet, physiotherapy treatment on sclerosis can help to regain independence, range of motion, and return to usual activities.

The benefits of physiotherapy treatment on sclerosis

There are different approaches to the treatment of MS, depending on your individual needs and symptoms. These may include a combination of drug therapy, physiotherapy, and electrotherapy.

When living with Multiple Sclerosis, you’ll have a number of different symptoms that can vary at any one time.You may be referred to a physiotherapist where it affects your daily activities, independence, or mobility.

Physiotherapy treatment on sclerosis involves exercise to maintain and give benefits of muscle strength, flexibility, and movement. As well as reducing pain and discomfort by increasing blood flow.

This approach of physiotherapy treatment on sclerosis is often used in conjunction with electrotherapy methods such as:

  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)
  • Percutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (PENS)
  • Electrical muscle stimulation (EMS)
  • Interferential current (IFC)
  • Pulsed electromagnetic field therapy (PEMF)

Electrotherapy is the use of electricity as a form of treatment for many conditions such as arthritis or nerve pain or a range of MS-related problems from painful spasms to bladder control difficulties.

There are both advantages and risks of using electrotherapy in physiotherapy. Yet, studies have shown improved symptoms and greater overall quality of life in Multiple Sclerosis sufferers using this technique.

Exercises a physiotherapist may give for Multiple Sclerosis patients

Used as a part of your rehabilitation programme, physiotherapy treatment on sclerosis can help whatever level of MS you’re experiencing.

This can be extremely beneficial when physical symptoms progress or you’re recovering from a relapse.

Our physiotherapists are on hand to give you advice and useful tips on how to overcome problems relating to mobility, musculoskeletal pain, muscle stiffness and spasms.

Physiotherapy exercises for Multiple Sclerosis:

  • Postural exercises
  • Range of motion exercises
  • Core exercises
  • Balancing strengthening exercises
  • Used alone or alongside other treatments, movement and exercise restore independence and help to maintain overall health.

Regular movements of joints and muscles will help to prevent muscle atrophy, reduce pain, and improve your posture, mobility, circulation and function.

How many physio sessions will I need for my MS?

In addition to recommended physiotherapy treatment on sclerosis, your physiotherapist may need to perform manual therapy or electrotherapy.

Manual therapy is the use of hands to stretch, manipulate, and mobilise soft tissue to:

  • Reduce swelling/inflammation
  • Encourage joint suppleness and flexibility
  • Improve circulation.

Electrotherapy is a non-invasive treatment using electrical energy that is passed through the skin via electrodes used to help:

  • Increase circulation
  • Restore muscle tissue
  • Relieve chronic pain
  • Mend or forge new neural pathways within the brain and nervous system.

There is no specific quantity of physiotherapy sessions you should receive.

Physiotherapy treatment on sclerosis regularity and intensity is mainly determined by your level of Multiple Sclerosis and the complexity of symptoms.

NHS Physiotherapy services often have a long waiting list and can only offer limited sessions for MS sufferers.

Our specialised physiotherapists can provide assessment and treatment as soon as and as often as you require.

Depending on the level of treatment needed, virtual home sessions may be initially provided.

This enables you to feel both relaxed and motivated as you remain in comfortable surroundings. Plus, digitally accessing physiotherapy treatment on sclerosis has shown better retention of exercise knowledge, repetition frequency and increased recovery rate.

CK Physio are here for you today

At CK Physio we pride ourselves on customer care and delivering the best treatment for you in accommodating your needs.

Our aim is to help you achieve your full potential, independence and increased flexibility, strength, and fitness.

Contact us today to book your initial virtual consultation or if you have any questions about MS or physiotherapy treatment on sclerosis.

After your pre-assessment, a treatment programme can be adjusted accordingly to grow with you as you make progress or have any symptom changes.

Speak with us today to put your mind at ease and get you on the road to recovery.

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