A web-blog (formerly known as Stu's Views and MS News), now published by MS Views and News, a patient advocacy organization. The information on this blog helps to Empower those affected by Multiple Sclerosis globally, with education, information, news and community resources.
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Disclaimer: 'MS Views and News' DOES NOT endorse any products or services found on this blog. It is up to you to seek advice from your healthcare provider. The intent of this blog is to provide information on various medical conditions, medications, treatments, and procedures for your personal knowledge and to keep you informed of current health-related issues. It is not intended to be complete or exhaustive, nor is it a substitute for the advice of your physician. Should you or your family members have any specific medical problem, seek medical care promptly.
Medicine and physical therapy can strengthen your muscles, prevent stiffness, and improve flexibility. You can also try these simple tricks on your own to make them work better.
Put yourself in motion. Exercise keeps your muscles flexible and strong. It's a good idea to combine three types of exercise:
Strength training. To keep your muscles strong, work them with light weights or exercise bands a couple of times a week. If you get a muscle spasm in the middle of your routine, stop and wait a few minutes for it to relax. Also stop if you feel any pain. Exercise should never hurt.
Range of motion. To prevent stiffness, do exercises that take your joints through their full range of motion. For example, lift your arm up and over your head, or bring your leg out to the side and back.
Stretching. Do a series of stretches at least twice a week. Pay special attention to muscles that tend to get tight and spasm, like the quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves. As you stretch, slowly move each muscle into position. Hold the position for up to one minute. Then gently release it.
You can do these exercises alone, or you can work with a physical therapist who will show you how to do each movement safely and effectively.
Exercise as often as you can without tiring yourself out. If the moves take too much effort, try working out in a cool pool. You'll put less pressure on your joints that way, so you'll use less energy.
Rest when you need to. Stay active, but don't overdo it. Balance activity with periods of rest to give your muscles a chance to recover.
The National Multiple Sclerosis Society announced that it has dedicated more than $1 million to support a clinical study at the University of Iowa that will compare two types of diet and their effectiveness in easing fatigue in people with multiple sclerosis (MS).
“The National MS Society is committed to identifying wellness solutions to help people live their best lives,” Bruce Bebo, PhD, the Society’s executive vice president, Research, said in a press release. “We’re very pleased to support a rigorous clinical trial to test the ability of two popular MS dietary approaches to address the disabling symptom of fatigue.”
Numerous studies have looked at dietary approaches to treating disease symptoms, but the protocols of many for MS were not sufficiently rigorous to provide suitable evidence for treatment recommendations. The new trial was carefully designed to understand the impact of diet on MS-related fatigue and other symptoms experienced by people with the disease.
The 36-week trial will enroll 100 patients with a diagnosis of relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS) and symptoms of fatigue. Patients will be asked to follow their normal diet for 12 weeks, after which they will be randomized to either the Swank diet, which is low in saturated fats, or the Wahls diet, a modified Paleolithic diet, for a 24-week period. Patients’ health and activities will be closely monitored throughout the trial.
Dr. Terry Wahls, the study’s lead investigator, was diagnosed with RRMS in 2000. She spent over a decade studying certain foods and vitamins, and their effects on health. Based on her experience, she created the Wahls Protocol diet, an adapted form of the well-known Paleolithic diet that does not incorporate eggs, dairy products, grains, legumes, or nightshade vegetables (like eggplants, tomatoes and peppers), but rather emphasizes foods likely available to the earliest humans: meat, fish, fruit, and vegetables.
“Together with the National MS Society, and this grant, we will be able to take our long-standing work even further, examining how food and nutrients can impact the lives of people with multiple sclerosis,” said Wahls.
The Swank Diet is a diet that is low in saturated fat, proposed in 1948 by Dr. Roy Laver Swank for the treatment of MS. The diet was created after he realized that incidences of MS were higher in geographic areas where people ate more meats, eggs, cheese, and milk, than in areas where they ate more fish. He spent more than 50 years recommending this diet to his patients and monitoring their health.
Studies have shown that both diets have a beneficial health impact on patients with MS.
Click here to read more and to learn how to enroll in this study
MS Views and News Providing educational information, resources and services for those affected by MS
For 5 years, Michelle Tolson lived a life many little girls dream of. She was a dancer with the Radio City Rockettes in New York City. Each night, she dazzled audiences from around the world with her precise leg work. Sometimes, she did 17 shows a week.
Tolson left the Rockettes in 2002, but she still keeps a busy schedule. Today, she’s a dance teacher and professor, and she judges dance competitions on the weekends.
And she does it while living with MS.
Like many people with the condition, Tolson notices physical changes in her body. “I started having balancing issues 18 months ago. Standing on one leg is a little more challenging. I have some numbness in my arms.”
She keeps her physical symptoms in check with medication and healthy habits, like eating well. But what about the fear that arises from time to time, like when she can’t execute a perfect dance move? Or when she worries about the future? To get through that, Tolson says, she relies on support from family and friends, doing work she loves, and teaching others about MS.
It’s important to find ways to keep negative emotions from getting the best of you. Here are five ways to keep your self-confidence intact.
Keep your sex life exciting, playful, and fun. The key is to take the time to find out what's important to you and your partner.
Know Your Needs
Explore. Your body may feel different than it used to. Get in touch with that, says Rosalind Kalb, PhD, of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
Lock the bedroom door, relax, and take 15 minutes to feel every part of your body.
"Figure out what feels good, what doesn't, and what hurts," Kalb says. This isn't about masturbation, although that's good, too. It's about taking stock of what your body feels now.
Share what you've learned. Once you have a sense of what feels good, tell your partner, who may have been nervous or worried about accidentally hurting you.
Reset your relationship. "When you have MS, you and your partner talk a lot about your health," says Cindy Richman of the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America. "You may start to feel more like a patient than a person."
Don't let all the health talk make you less sexual and desirable. To reconnect, set aside times where you agree not to talk about MS.
Be Bold in the Bedroom
Treat your MS as an opportunity to try different things in bed.
Try new positions. Your old standbys, like the missionary position, may be uncomfortable now. Try others.
Use pillows or rolled-up towels to support parts of your body to make you more comfortable. Also try oral sex or using your hands more.
Experiment with sex toys. Try them if you find you need more stimulation than you used to. You can use them alone or with your partner.
Add lubricant.Vaginal dryness is a common symptom of MS. So buy a water-based lubricant and use a lot of it. People tend to use too little, Kalb says.
Redefine sex. Try to focus more on the experience and less on checking off the boxes. Sex doesn't mean you have to have intercourse. You and your partner don't have to climax. You can still have an intimate -- and sexy -- experience.
MS is a chronic disease that damages the nerves in the spinal cord and brain, as well as the optic nerves. Sclerosis means scarring, and people with MS develop multiple areas of scar tissue in response to the nerve damage. Depending on where the damage occurs, symptoms may include problems with muscle control, balance, vision, or speech.
Click here to see another (20) slides and accompanying information
MS Views and News Providing educational information, resources and services for those affected by MS
In the past half
year, five researchers have requested samples from our ACP Repository to search for
molecular biomarkers of MS in the blood of MS patients. When found, they
will provide a dynamic and powerful -- yet objective and measurable --
approach to understanding the spectrum of the disease, with applications
to screening, diagnosis and prognosis.
Microsoft’s motion and depth-sensing Kinect camera may be most commonly used for gaming, but researchers at McGill University have come up with another use entirely for it: as a diagnostic tool to help evaluate the walking difficulties of patients with multiple sclerosis (MS).
“The Kinect camera appealed to us because it was inexpensive, portable and easy-to-use,” McGill University postdoctoral fellow Farnood Gholami told Digital Trends. “We developed a framework which means that when a patient walks in front of the camera, our algorithm can identify whether the subject has gait abnormality or not — and also quantify that level of gait abnormality in terms of how serious it is.”
At present, assessing these kind of walking difficulties — one of the symptoms of MS, caused by nerve damage as a result of the disease — is usually carried out by a physician. “The challenge with this kind of diagnosis is that it can be very subjective,” Gholami said. “Clinicians observe the walking of a patient and, based on their expertise, assign a clinical score. The problem is that different clinicians can assign different scores to the same subject. I had the idea of coming up with a more systematic and accurate way of assessing people with this kind of gait abnormality.”
To create their algorithm, the McGill University researchers first analyzed the movement of ten MS patients, along with ten members of a control group. By pinpointing certain gait characteristics, they were then able to come up with a tool able to distinguish between the walking patterns of people suffering from MS and those who were not.
Primary progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS) is an uncommon form of MS that affects approximately 10-15% of MS patients. In PPMS, symptoms steadily get worse over time without frequent relapses or remission.
Unlike relapse-remitting MS (RRMS), which affects women more than men, PPMS affects an equal number of both genders. PPMS is usually diagnosed in older individuals between the ages of 40 to 60, yet it is sometimes diagnosed beyond this range.
Early symptoms in PPMS develop slowly over a period of time and usually involve issues with walking and general mobility. The pace and progress of PPMS can vary from patient to patient. In some people with PPMS, relapses can occur along with steady disease progression. This is referred to as progressive-relapsing MS (PRMS).
Diagnosis of PPMS
The diagnosis of PPMS is particularly difficult as it is diagnosed in the 40s and 50s when other health issues related to mobility tend to develop. Since PPMS is characterized by a gradual and steady accumulation of disability over time, the criteria for diagnosis of PPMS are different from that of other forms of MS.
The criteria include:
Steady disease progression
Worsening of neurological function for one year without remission
Brain lesions typical of MS
Multiple lesions in the spinal cord
Indications of immune activity in the CNS (such as elevated IgG index)
These criteria often take a long time to develop, hence PPMS diagnosis usually taking two to three years more than diagnosis of RRMS.
General practitioners (GPs) in England lack confidence in initially assessing and referring onward people with neurological symptoms, especially those with multiple sclerosis, and believe they could benefit from better training in identifying and managing neurological patients.
Because most neurological conditions are progressive and early treatment is critical to reducing disease progression and severity, such delays in accessing secondary care can have strong consequences for the patients.
A growing body of research is unraveling a multitude of ways in which the human gut microbiome has a major impact on health. Microbial dysbiosis has been linked with a variety of diseases, including diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular disease, colorectal cancer, and more, underscoring the diffuse role of intestinal bacteria in biological functioning.1
“Humans have evolved with these gut bacteria over millions of years and have a symbiotic relationship with them,” according to Ashutosh Mangalam, PhD, an assistant professor of pathology at the University of Iowa. “The human host provides them with food and space, and the bacteria help to digest food and extract energy from foods that we cannot digest,” he told Neurology Advisor. Clues to the role of the gut microbiota in the development of a healthy immune system have been revealed in various research initiatives, especially in a rodent study in which mice were raised in a germ-free facility.2,3 Their immune systems were initially impaired but were restored via colonization of gut microbes from normal mice.
My wife, Caryn, was the first to notice one of the things that seems to be part of my new normal as I recover from my last MS “thing”: She asked me a couple of times about my left hand as I was doing (or trying to do) something that did not involve that appendage.
While I was walking with my crutch, reading your comments, or simply having a chat with our dogs, Caryn noticed my left hand was curling at the wrist and fingers. I straightened it out as much as I could, but within a few minutes it was back in the same position.
Caryn said it was as if I was “throwing gang signs” as I walked. I love my SoCal girl from the barrio.
I’d forgotten to mention it to my multiple sclerosis team when we were going over things before the neurological exam we all know so well. My hand and fingers on the left side (and leg and foot, for that matter) are markedly weaker than they were just over a year ago when I had my last visit.
Caryn brought it to my doc’s attention as we were making our staggered exit.
He said he’d observed it while we were talking, and that it’s spasticity.
Because what I was experiencing did not meet my assumed definition of spasticity, I thought it might be a good topic for our running MS Symptom Thesaurus.
A Different Kind of MS Spasticity
While most definitions of MS spasticity have to do with muscle stiffness and contraction, what I was experiencing was indeed a tightening of the muscles in my forearm, which causes the hand and fingers to turn in. But this was not the stiff, rigid, and painful type of spasticity that I’ve heard our MS brothers and sisters talk about.