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MS affects over 25,600 people in Australia with most people being diagnosed between the ages of 20-40. Women are 3 times more likely to suffer MS than men. So what is MS?
MS is a neurological condition involving our central nervous system (CNS). In MS, the scarring or lesions occur within the CNS interferes with the way nerves are able to send messages to the brain, spinal cord and optic nerve, making any movement difficult.
MS symptoms are unpredictable and can be very different for every individual. The major and most common symptoms include:
Clumsy: Lack of co-ordination of muscle movements appearing as clumsiness, unsteady gait or impaired hand-eye co-ordination. Muscular spasms or spasticity could make movements difficult as well.
Dopey: Fatigues quickly or feeling low in energy in general.
Achy: Musculoskeletal pain or nerve pain may occur at any point. It can be long lasting or come in short bursts which only lasts for a few seconds or minutes at most.
Shaky: Tremor, more often in the upper limb that gets worse as you use the affected arm, ie. The arm shakes when you reach for something etc.
Forgetful: cognitive changes such as difficulty remembering recent events, hard to concentrate or follow conversations, difficulty with planning and problem solving. However, these symptoms are quite mild for most people.
Grouchy: Feeling depressed, anxious or agitated which often developed as a result of diagnosis or condition change.
Leaky: Bladder and bowel dysfunctions such as stress incontinence, urgency or constipation.
So why physio?
If you experience any of the symptoms above, regardless of what stage you are at your MS journey, physiotherapy can help! A physiotherapist will provide a full assessment of your current level of functions, identify the main issues we need to address and develop a plan of action accordingly, whether that be strengthening programs to maintain functions and balance or manual treatment to manage pain.
A physiotherapist can also provide appropriate referral to other allied health services based on your needs to ensure optimal care.
Keeping active from day to day as well as regular exercises has been proven to be effective in managing MS symptoms. Tailored classes such as TaiChi, hydrotherapy and other strengthening programs will help you regain fitness and endurance which decreases overall fatigue and gives you a mood boost.
When should I see a physio?
The answer is the earlier the better. A physiotherapist can help you develop strategies to manage or improve your symptoms and regain confidence.
Lastly, don’t think ‘I am managing ok now, maybe later’. Our aim is to address the areas of concern before they become a major issue.
So make an appointment with your healthcare professional or come see me at Collins Street if you require any assistance.