Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a progressive neurological disease of the central nervous system (CNS).
It is the leading cause of disability in young and middle-aged people and affects about 25000 Australians. It usually presents between 20 and 50 years of age and is most common in females. It is thought to be either an autoimmune mediated disease or myelin loss from neurodegeneration.
There are 3 types of the disease, relapsing-remitting, primary progressive and relapsing progressive.
The symptoms of MS occur due to impaired nerve conduction and axon damage from demyelination in the CNS. Symptoms may be so small and trivial that a patient doesn’t seek medical help for years, or it may be sudden and severe onset.
Any of the following signs are worth investigating.
- Limb weakness. Any loss of strength or dexterity in one or more limbs. Any change in gait or limb fatigue.
- Spasticity. Painful spasms that interfere with walking. Leg spasticity impacts about 1/3 of patients with MS.
- Paraesthesia. Pins and needles, burning sensations, tingling or prickling.
- Hypoaesthesia. A “dead” feeling, numbness or reduced sensations.
- Sensory disturbance. Having unpleasant feelings that body parts are tightly wrapped, raw, or swollen.
- Pain. Can occur anywhere on the body and change location. Over half the people with MS report transient pain.
- Blurring of vision. Decreased colour perception or pain when you move your eye.
- Double vision.
- Slurred speech.
- Bladder and bowel dysfunction. Incontinence, urgency, and recurrent infection.
- Fatigue. The most common MS symptom. Can be extreme weakness, loss of endurance, extreme exhaustion, inability to focus and needing more sleep.
- Memory loss. Slower in processing information.
- Depression and anxiety. Depression occurs in about 60% of patients, with higher amounts of suicide compared to people that don’t have MS.
- Vertigo or dizziness.
- Sexual dysfunction.
- Sensitivity to heat. Fever, hot showers or exercise might cause vision loss.
- Electric shock down spine. Known as Lhermitte’s symptoms, flexion of the neck can cause an electric shock like sensation.
As you can see, the list of symptoms is very broad, but you don’t necessarily experience all of these (thankfully!).
It is a complex disease that requires a few diagnostic tests to confirm it, including MRI of brain and spinal cord, cerebrospinal fluid examination and fundoscopic examination.
What can naturopathy do for a patient with MS?
- Slow down or stop the progression of the disease.
- Encourage the remission of symptoms.
- Assess contributing causes and treat to reduce disease progression.
- If a patient is on medication, support any reactions or side effects.
- Turn down the bodies’ autoimmune response.
- Improve cognition.
- Provide pain relief.
- Support bowel and bladder function as required.
- Utilise nutritional medicine and herbs to support immunity and provide relief for symptoms.
There is no cure for the diseases, however you can modify the direction the disease takes. Using Dr Terry Wahls as inspiration, the depilating symptoms of MS can be reversed. We can work with you at any stage of your disease to help manage your symptoms and avoid more nerve damage.
To find out more, book a free 20-minute assessment to see one of our naturopaths today.