Longevity Exercise Physiology Drummoyne,EdgecliffMarrickville,Bella Vista, Randwick, Lindfield and Balmain see many people living with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and know first-hand the positive benefits of exercise for those with all types of MS. Today we discuss what MS is, common types and common symptoms people may experience.

What is MS?

In MS, the immune system attacks the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord), specifically myelin, which is the protective covering around the nerves that helps messages to and from different parts of the body travel smoothly. When myelin is damaged in MS, messages do not pass along the nerves as efficiently and therefore, messages can be delayed or not get through at all. These areas of damage are called lesions and they cause the symptoms that those with MS experience.

What are the common types of MS?

MS typically takes on of three clinical courses which can be mild, moderate or severe.

1. Relapsing-remitting (RRMS)

This is the most common form of MS and is characterised by partial or total recovery after attacks (also called relapses).

2. Secondary progressive (SPMS)

This starts as relapsing-remitting and then becomes steadily progressive. Of the 70-75% who start with RRMS, 50% develop SPMS within 10 years.

3. Primary progressive (PPMS)

This is progressive from the onset and there is generally no partial or total recovery after attacks.

What are the common symptoms of MS?

MS symptoms vary on an individual and daily basis. They usually correspond with the areas of the brain and spinal cord that have been damaged, but this isn’t always the case.

1. Loss of balance and dizziness

This is typically caused by damage to an area in the back of the brain called the cerebellum which controls movement, balance and posture.

2. Fatigue

This is thought to be due to nerve messages from the brain and spinal cord having to cope with, and work around, the areas of damage caused by MS. It takes more energy for the body to send and deliver messages to other parts of the body, causing a build-up of fatigue.

3. Spasticity and spasms

Spasticity and spasms are caused by an increase in muscle tone. Muscle tone is the amount of resistance to movement in muscles. Spasticity is when muscles remain in there shortened state, making the affected part feel stiff, heavy and difficult to move. A spasm is an involuntary contraction of a muscle that leads to sudden stiffening of a muscle which may cause a limb to kick out or jerk towards your body.

4. Temperature sensitivity

Often people are sensitive to extreme heat and/or cold and can find it worsens their MS symptoms. This may be due to temperature affecting the speed at which nerve impulses travel or MS may have caused a lesion in the part of the brain that responds to body temperature.

MS affects everyone differently. Our Exercise Physiologists are experts in prescribing exercise that addresses your individual challenges and goals.

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Stay tuned for Part 2 to hear why exercise is so important for those with MS and how you can start! Or give us a call on 1300 964 002 to find out how we can help you.

 

Written by Courtney Maher

Courtney-Maher