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Saturday, September 19, 2015

Melatonin Levels May Affect MS Flare-Ups

Seasonal Melatonin Levels May Affect MS Flare-Ups

But it's too soon to recommend self-dosing with supplements

WebMD News from HealthDay
By Maureen Salamon
HealthDay Reporter
THURSDAY, Sept. 10, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Higher levels of the hormone melatonin are linked to a lower incidence of multiple sclerosis (MS) flare-ups during the darker months of fall and winter, new research suggests.
American and Argentinian scientists also found that treating mice withmelatonin could improve symptoms of the disease, which can be progressive and often disabling.
But study authors stressed that the findings don't mean patients with MS should self-dose high levels of melatonin, available in over-the-counter supplements often used to promote sleep. Rather, the research may spur more targeted approaches to MS without causing unwanted or dangerous drowsiness, they said.

Read more

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Friday, September 18, 2015

Ease the Pain of an ‘MS Hug’

If you’ve been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune disease that affects the brain and spinal cord, you might have felt a band of pain around your torso. It’s often called the “MS hug.”

What You’re Feeling

Like most symptoms of MS, the feeling is different for each person. You might have pain under your rib cage or anywhere between your neck and waistline. It can be dull and achy, sharp, or burning. It can last a few seconds to a few hours, and in rare cases, a few days.
Some people describe a slight tingling or tickling vibration, while others say it’s a crippling pressure below their ribs that can make it hurt to breathe. People often say it’s like wearing a girdle around the middle of your body. For that reason, you may also hear it called the “MS girdle” or “girdle-band” sensation.

What’s Really Going On?

In between each of your ribs are small muscles that hold your rib cage together and help it expand when you move, bend, or breathe. If these muscles have spasms, you feel painful, tightening pressure.

What Should You Do?

If you think you’re having an MS hug, talk to your neurologist or main doctor right away. The symptoms can seem like those of a heart attack, so it’s important to make sure that’s not the case and to rule out any other causes of the pressure.
Your doctor will most likely give you an MRI to look for other things, like gallbladder or lung disease. MS hug can also happen to people with other rib and spinal cord conditions.

Treatment and Therapy

You’re more likely to trigger an MS hug if you’re feeling stressed, overworked, or very tired. So try to take good care of yourself and avoid a flare.
A few things to try:

  • Apply a warm compress. (Note: Heat may cause more pain in some people.)
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Get a massage.
  • Stay rested and get at least 8 hours of sleep each night.
  • Use deep breathing techniques, yoga, and meditation.
  • Wear loose, comfortable clothing.
Article continues here

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Thursday, September 17, 2015

Workplace Accommodations Under the Americans With Disabilities Act

Mariah Z. Leach- Having a chronic illness or disability can sometimes make it difficult – or even physically painful – to function in the workplace. But despite struggling daily, many workers are reluctant to speak to their employers about the situation for fear of discrimination. If I tell my boss I am struggling at work, will I be fired? 

If I request an accommodation, will there be some sort of retaliation? Luckily, there’s a law in place to protect employees with disabilities. 

If you are struggling in the workplace, it is useful to know your legal rights before speaking to your employer about a potential... Read more

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Disability Discrimination

Ashley Ringstaff- Being someone who has Multiple Sclerosis, but doesn’t “look sick”… I tend to get some commentary from others when I’m out and about, and I need to use my handicapped placard. I wanted to share with everyone something that happened to me not too long ago. I was at the grocery store, and it was PACKED full. 

I would have had to walk ½ a mile in 105°F heat, from where the open parking was to get into the store. So that doesn’t include me actually walking around in the store, getting my shopping done… then walking back OUT to... Read more

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7 Ways to Fight Stress and Anxiety

By Cathy Chester—September 10, 2015
My cousin told me the other day that she believes things happen the way they are supposed to happen, and I quite agree. Life unravels itself the way it’s supposed to, and because it does I’ve often contemplated what “the Big Picture is.” I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I’ll never know what the Big Plan is from the Person Upstairs, or how She/He came up with the playbook. So I’ll sit back in my easy chair and let it all play out.
I’m not a religious person, but a spiritual one, recognizing the beauty and wonder we experience on life’s journey. I try to see the glass half full and live my life by seeing the good in everything.
But sometimes life throws us a curve, and without those curves we’d never recognize the beauty. There are some curves that are more difficult to maneuver. They cause us to feel sad, anxious or fearful. We can get lost in their midst or try to find our footing.
Our spirit is tested during times of adversity. Will we wither and spin out of control, or rely on our inner strength and faith to pull us through?
During times of adversity it’s important to have an anchor, something to lean on to help us maintain our strength. When life through us a curve we need to be ready.
Here are a few of my anchors that I lean on during difficult and stressful times:
Friends and Family: Reach out to loved ones. Put your trust in them to help you through your darkest days. There’s no shame in reaching out to others. That’s what unconditional love is all about.
Meditation: Meditating is extremely beneficial in calming your mind. According to a recent article in Forbes,meditation can change key areas of the brain that affect levels of fear, stress, anxiety and mood improvements. I try to meditate at least 5 – 10 minutes a day. Here’s Meditation 101 for beginners.
Prayer: According to Dr. Roberta Lee in her book “The Super Stress Solution,” “Research shows that people who are more religious or spiritual use their spirituality to cope with life. They’re better able to cope with stress, they heal faster from illness, and they experience increased benefits to their health and well-being.”
Journaling: Writing your thoughts in a journal can calm your mind. I love the blog “Tiny Buddha” and here she offers advice on 10 journaling tips to help you heal, grow and thrive.
ExerciseExercise has been found to be beneficial when dealing with stress. As The Mayo Clinic says, “Exercise is meditation in motion.”


Simple chores that were easy to do before can now seem like major feats. Here are some tips and tricks to make these routine tasks more manageable.

Written by The Healthline Editorial Team | Illustrations by Vivian Shih | Published on June 2, 2015
Medically Reviewed by George T. Krucik, MD, MBA 
Everyday Health

Living with multiple sclerosis can be a daily struggle. Simple chores that were easy to do before can now seem like major feats. Here are some tips and tricks to make these routine tasks more manageable.

1. Gather all your ingredients and supplies before you begin cooking. Then, sit on a kitchen stool and begin prepping everything at once to reduce the amount of time you spend on your feet.

cooking life hack

2. Keep notepads and pens around the house. You’re less likely to forget something if you jot it down, which will boost your cognitive confidence. Also, opt for wide-gripped instruments to make writing easier.

keep notepads around the house

3. Use body wash and a bath pouf (also called loofah) or washcloth instead of a slippery bar of soap. And think about installing grab bars or a shower bench to help maintain your balance.

body wash and loofah

4. Stay independent by outfitting your car with adaptive equipment. Wide-angle rear view mirrors, mechanical gas and brake hand controls, and steering wheel knobs can make your time on the road both easier and safer.

adaptive car equipment

5. Buy clothing that is easy to put on and take off. Fill your wardrobe with clothing that has Velcro fasteners, hook-and-loop closures, or zippers. You can even find dapper Velcro ties or clip-on bow ties.

velcro clothing

6. When shopping for shoes, look for something that’s practical. Ladies, your eye might go to that red pair of pumps, and, men, you might want a casual pair of flip-flops, but your feet will thank you for buying something with a lower heel and sturdier base.

practical shoes


Ocrelizumab: a Promising New Treatment for Multiple Sclerosis with Minimal Side Effects

On September 16, 2015, Swiss pharmaceutical company Roche announced that ocrelizumab, a drug originally designed to treat rheumatoid arthritis that saw its development stopped due to an association with infections, could potentially treat relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) as well as primary progressive MS (PPMS) with minimal sides effects compared to other commercially available drugs. Full details on the clinical trial results assessing the efficacy and safety of ocrelizumab will be disclosed on October 7-10 at the Annual Meeting of the European Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ECTRIMS) in Barcelona, Spain.

additional information found here

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Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Special Report: Oral Treatments for MS

In the past few years, research has lead to the approval of new oral treatment options for the treatment of relapsing form of multiple sclerosis, or RRMS.
While infusions, interferon and other injectables are still used by a majority of MS patients, the recent MS in America 2014 survey completed by over 5,000 respondents showed that oral medications for MS are used by almost a third of patients, and over 50% of people using injectables are considering switching to an oral.
In this special report we take a closer look at the use of oral medications for MS including the reason people switched, patient-reported satisfaction, the type of dialogue they had with their doctor, and much more information that anyone considering an oral therapy for MS might find useful.

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Merck Prepares to File for European Marketing Authorization for Cladribine Tablets as a Multiple Sclerosis Therapy

September 14, 2015

Merck recently reported its intention to file for European registration of its product candidate for relapsing multiple sclerosis – Cladribine, a synthetic anti-cancer agent able to suppress the immune system. Cladribine causes relatively few side effects and results in very little non-target cell loss. Merck’s decision follows new findings and further characterization of the compound’s benefit-risk profile.
The company has already sent a letter of intent to the European Medicines Agency (EMA) to file a Marketing Authorization Application (MAA) for Cladribine Tablets, for which Merck has been issued a list of pre-submission requirements. The company is simultaneously pursuing regulatory milestones in other territories across the globe.
“I applaud Merck for its decision to move forward with Cladribine Tablets as demonstrated in its Letter of Intent to the European Medicines Agency,” said the Director of the Institute of Experimental Neurology (INSPE) and of the department of neurology at San Raffaele Hospital in Milan, Italy, Professor Giancarlo Comi in a news release. “This decision is very positive for patients with multiple sclerosis because tailoring treatment to their individual needs is a key strategy for optimizing their care, and to achieve this we need to have access to more therapeutic options. While the options available to treating neurologists have grown over the years, Cladribine Tablets have the potential to offer a truly innovative addition to the armamentarium physicians have at their disposal to treat their patients.”
“Time has brought additional data that allow a better characterization of the benefit-risk profile of Cladribine, and this has driven our decision to move forward with the registration process,” said the CEO Healthcare and Member of the Executive Board of Merck, BelĂ©n Garijo.

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Leaving your job while living with multiple sclerosis – Living Like You

Real-Life Tips for Staying Positive When Leaving the Workforce

Making the decision to retire early can often feel like a blow to your psyche. It’s easy to flashback to a moment during a job interview when you’re asked, “Where do you see yourself in five years?”

For Willeke Van Eeckhoutte, her aspirations included studying psychology and climbing the corporate ladder. She also had just started a new relationship, and professionally things were moving along nicely — at least until a multiple sclerosis diagnosis felt like her life plan was derailed.

“No one gets to practice what living with a serious illness is like, so I had to improvise as I went along. There were no magical cards to show me what my five-year plan would become; whether I would still be at work, or whether I would deteriorate more quickly.”

Four years after her diagnosis, fatigue, pain and related periods of sick leave kept growing in time and space. The idea of early retirement started to take hold, as she saw a future where she could not regularly work because of her symptoms. She knew it might be time to leave her job because she refused to be a liability to her colleagues.
“They deserved a colleague who could be there 100 percent,” Willeke said, ‘Not someone who pops in one morning only to be absent again the following day.’ There were many times of doubt—her heart said, ‘You love your job, stay at work,’ but her head knew that retiring was the right choice.

Willeke had to learn to engineer her life around her new reality, one that to this day still consists of hospitals, neurologists, treatment plans and early retirement. “It was not what I had in mind when I emigrated to Ireland, but this was it, and life had to go on. A few weeks of feeling negative turned into many years of positivity.”

So what advice does she have to share with others who have had to change the course of their professional careers because of their MS?

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Mind over matter / Explore your options / Do what suits you and Looking ahead
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CME - Following the Evidence: A Practical, Case-based Approach to Improving Quality of Life in MS Patients is a CME-certified webcourse

Following the Evidence: A Practical, Case-based Approach to Improving Quality of Life in MS Patients is a CME-certified webcourse that provides neurologists and MS specialists with the latest research and clinical management information on DMD therapies, diagnostic MRI measures, and biomarkers.

View the course online at:

This activity is intended for MS specialists, neurologists, and other health care professionals who manage patients with MS.

There is a general consensus that early diagnosis of multiple sclerosis (MS) and rapid initiation of disease-modifying drug (DMD) therapy are associated with better patient outcomes via delayed progression, better quality of life, and a longer time to onset of disability. However, diagnostic uncertainty, indecision caused by the ongoing emergence of new agents, and patient reluctance to begin treatment all lead to delays in treatment initiation.

The ongoing emergence of new DMDs forces clinicians to face more treatment choices, making the formulation of optimal DMD therapies increasingly complex. In addition, patient concerns with DMD side effects, treatment preferences, drug costs, and other issues negatively impact acceptance of and adherence to DMD treatments. Improved patient engagement and patient-centered care, as well as more comprehensive management of treatment-related side effects and common MS comorbidities, are emerging as other important areas of focus in MS care.

“Following the Evidence: A Practical, Case-based Approach to Improving Quality of Life in MS Patients” uses a case-based approach to explore these issues and discuss the latest advances in MS diagnosis and management, so that neurologists and MS specialists can optimize outcomes for their patients with MS.

Patricia K. Coyle, MD, FAAN, FANA
Professor and Vice Chair (Clinical Affairs)
Department of Neurology
Director, MS Comprehensive Care Center
Stony Brook University Medical Center
Stony Brook, NY

Stephen Krieger, MD
Associate Professor of Neurology
Corinne Goldsmith Dickinson Center for MS
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
New York, NY
At the conclusion of this activity, participants should be able to demonstrate the ability to:
  • Describe the mechanisms of action and efficacy and safety profiles of current and emerging DMD therapies in MS
  • Initiate evidence-based, patient-tailored therapies earlier in the course of MS
  • Recognize the barriers to DMD-treatment adherence and formulate patient-engagement strategies and therapies that optimize adherence and effectiveness
  • Improve the recognition and management of common treatment-related side effects and MS comorbidities to improve the care of patients with MS
      Welcome and Introduction
      Advances in Early Diagnosis and DMD Initiation in MS
      Emerging Concepts in MS Management
      Panel Discussion
      Q&A Session, Practice Pearls, and Concluding Remarks
This activity has been planned and implemented in accordance with the accreditation requirements and policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) through the joint providership of the Potomac Center for Medical Education and Rockpointe. The Potomac Center for Medical Education is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians.
The Potomac Center for Medical Education designates this enduring activity for a maximum of 1.25 AMA PRA Category I Credits™. Physicians should only claim credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

For questions regarding CME credit, the post-test, or evaluation, please email
Potomac Center for Medical Education (PCME) adheres to the policies and guidelines, including the Standards for Commercial Support, set forth to providers by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) and all other professional organizations, as applicable, stating those activities where continuing education credits are awarded must be balanced, independent, objective, and scientifically rigorous.

All persons in a position to control the content of a continuing medical education program provided by the Potomac Center for Medical Education are required to disclose any relevant financial relationships with any commercial interest to PCME as well as to learners. All conflicts of interest are identified and resolved by PCME in accordance with the Standards for Commercial Support in advance of delivery of the activity to learners.

The content of this activity was vetted by an external medical reviewer to assure objectivity and that the activity is free of commercial bias.
Jointly provided by Potomac Center for Medical Education and Rockpointe

Supported by an educational grant from: Teva Pharmaceuticals and Genentech

The CMSC and NPA do not certify this program for Continuing Education Credit and do not take responsibility for the quality or evidence upon which the content has been based or the faculty chosen.

©2015 Rockpointe


Monday, September 14, 2015

Urinary Prosthesis Better than Catheterization for Female MS Patients

Urinary Prosthesis Better than Catheterization for Female MS PatientsOne of the concerns patients with neurologic diseases such as multiple sclerosis face is decline or loss of bladder control. It can be an embarrassing and frustrating problem, which is estimated to occur in about 80% of MS patients, as the disease causes a slowing down or interruption in signal transmission to and from the brain. This, of course, gets in the way of efficient bladder innervation, which can manifest as urgency, incontinence, nocturia, or hesitancy.
Yesterday, the US Food and Drug Administration granted marketing approval for a revolutionary product from Redmond, Washington-based Vesiflo, Inc. indicated for female patients suffering from impaired detrusor contractility (IDC) — the reduced ability to contract the muscles needed to squeeze urine out of the bladder. The inFlow Intraurethral Valve-Pump is a replaceable urinary prosthesis, which has the potential to soon replace the need for other standard solutions for IDC, likecatheterization.
The deputy director for science and the chief scientist at the FDA’s Center for Devices and Rediological Health, William Maisel, M.D. M.P.H., explained that the device offers women with IDC a more convenient and mobile solution to urination by drawing urine from the bladder and blocking urine flow. The patient would only have to see a physician, get fitted for an inFlow device, and have it inserted. The device’s 4 components need replacing every 29 days, so as an option to having it inserted in a doctor’s clinic, the patient or a caregiver can receive proper training to perform the removal and insertion themselves.
The device garnered an FDA approval through the de novo classification process, which covers low to moderate risk devices, after a review of findings that showed 98% of the 115 female participants with IDC, using the inFlow device, retained post-void residual urine volumes similar to those who still used clean intermittent catheterization (CIC).

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New Genetic Risk Factors for Multiple Sclerosis Identified in Study

Two new risk factors for multiple sclerosis have been identified by a research group at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. Led by Dr. Loukas Moutsianas, the team discovered that having HLA-DQA1*01:01–HLA-DRB1*15:01 and HLA-DQB1*03:01–HLA-DQB1*03:02 gene allele interactions put an individual at risk for developing multiple sclerosis. The findings were recently outlined in a study published in the prestigious journal Nature Genetics, entitled “Class II HLA Interactions Modulate Genetic Risk for Multiple Sclerosis.
The research team was working off of previous knowledge that human leukocyte antigen (HLA) alleles — specifically, the HLA-DRB1*15:01 allele — dominate a patient’s risk factor for developing multiple sclerosis. There is some evidence that HLA alleles interact with each other in other neurological disorders, but such a phenomenon had not been reported for multiple sclerosis.

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