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Symptom Management

MS can cause a wide range of symptoms and these can vary from day to day and also from person to person. Most people will only experience a small number of symptoms which can be intermittent or ongoing. These symptoms relate to the location of the attacks and inflammation, and resulting scarring, within the Central Nervous System. Your MS symptoms can also worsen when you are unwell due to a virus or when you are overheated due to exercise or the weather.

Treatment for, or management of, many of these symptoms can involve one or more approaches involving medication, therapy and/or lifestyle modification. Speak with your neurologist and/or one of our MS nurses as they can provide information, advice and support. It is also important to remember that all symptoms may relate to your MS.  It is important to speak with your neurologist or GP about any concerns you have.

Common symptoms reported include:

  • Fatigue: this varies from person to person but can often limit a person’s enjoyment and participation. Our OT Department they can provide you with energy conservation tips and self-management programs.
  • Low mood and/or depression: depression can be common in people living with MS, and the general population, and may be due to being diagnosed with the condition or as a symptom. Low mood can be a result of other life stressors. If you experience depression or fluctuating mood, chat with your MS nurse, neurologist or GP.  Help is available and may include antidepressant medication and counselling, meditation or mindfulness training. 
  • Spasticity and spasms: this symptom causes muscles to stiffen and feel heavy and difficult to move. Spasms are sudden stiffening which can cause a limb to jerk suddenly. Medication and physiotherapy can be beneficial and you should consult your neurologist and/or MS health team for advice.
  • Heat sensitivity: heat can often make your other MS symptoms worse. The effects of heat can be unpleasant but usually resolve quite quickly with cooling down; this includes having a raised body temperature due to infection.  In the summer months keep hydrated, use cooling garments and exercise during the cooler parts of the day. For more advice, chat with one of our MS nurses; if you are unwell see your GP to determine if antibiotics will be beneficial.
  • Sensory symptoms: numbness, tingling, pain, visual disturbance and the ‘MS hug’. All of these symptoms relate to damage to the sensory nerves and the resulting interruption of nerve pathways. Neuropathic pain due to nerve involvement, usually requires more specific pain relief for effect. This may be indicated, so speak with your neurologist or one of our MS nurses for more information.
  • Continence problems: many people with MS experience bladder or bowel problems at some time, however it can also be related to other causes such as following the birth of children and/or associated with ageing. A proper assessment is beneficial and there are many effective strategies; speak with an MS nurse who can assist you in sourcing the right help.

Please contact our nurses and staff by email.

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