Multiple Sclerosis or more commonly referred to as MS; is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord). This disease also attacks and damages (even destroys) the myelin; the substance that surrounds and insulates the nerves. The destruction wrought by this disease causes interruptions or distortions in the nerve impulses that travel to and from the brain.
While symptoms vary and no two people will have the same combination they range from :
-problems with vision
-tingling and numbness
-vertigo and dizziness
-balance and coordination issues
-muscle weakness and spasms
Less common symptoms include
-issues with speech and swallowing
- bladder and bowel dysfunction
- depression, mood swings
The cause for MS is still unknown and at this time there is no cure. The popular theory of what may cause MS is a possible combination of immunologic, genetic factors, environmental, or infectious. Researchers are also looking into the possibility of MS being caused by a virus.
A person can be diagnosed at any age, however, it is more typical for adults between 20 to 40 years of age that are diagnosed. There are less than 400,000 cases of MS in the US and roughly 2.5 million cases worldwide. About every 2 women to 1 man are diagnosed with MS and those cases are typically found in colder climates such as Northern Europe.
While there isn’t a cure for MS there are about 12 disease modifying medication currently available and approved by the FDA.
How can massage help?
Massage relieves muscle cramping, spasm, spasticity, and hand and foot paresthesias. Massage also decreases swelling, stress, anxiety, and fear that most individuals with MS experience. Although massage is great for relaxation and helping those living with MS, it can not improve grip strength.
There are some conditions that are can arise while having MS that are not safe for massage such as:
-ulcers or enlargement of liver or spleen
-recent injuries or diagnosis of cancer, arthritis, or heart disease (consult your physician prior to massage)
-pregnant women (again consult your physician prior to massage).
For more information about this disease as well as possible symptoms visit the websites listed below. Our massage staff here at Northwest Wellness are prepared to help our patients who are living with MS (or in remission) with total compassion, empathy, and care.