Can Chiropractic Make Life Easier for Those Suffering From Multiple Sclerosis?
By Martha Michael
The backbone of a project, a company, or a society is typically the feature that’s of central importance to the whole. The human body, where the metaphor comes from, bears out the concept effectively. While the source of pain is always significant, a serious condition involving the spine such as multiple sclerosis is central to your body’s function and is disabling and incurable. That’s why it’s important to understand the connection between chiropractic and multiple sclerosis and the opportunity available to patients to make their lives a bit easier in spite of their condition.
A person suffering from MS has an immune disorder in which the body’s system attacks the myelin sheath that covers nerve fibers, according to an article by the Mayo Clinic. The deterioration of the nerves causes permanent damage as it breaks down communication between the brain and the spine. The amount of damage dictates the rate with which a patient loses the ability to act independently.
There is a wide range of symptoms which, at times, disappear for long periods as patients regain their abilities to walk and move freely. The most common symptoms of MS are:
- Sensations resembling electrical shock waves
- Lack of coordination
- Numbness or weakness in limbs or trunk
- Problems with vision -- loss, double, or blurry
- Slurred speech
- Pain throughout your body
- Lack of sexual, bowel, and bladder function
Those at Greatest Risk
The more resources are spent on research, the greater experts can predict who gets MS and why. Symptoms of MS typically occur between age 20 and 59, though young children and older adults have also been diagnosed with the disease, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. In general, there are more cases of MS in areas farthest north and south of the equator and there are three times more females with the disease than males. Researchers theorize that it may be influenced by hormones.
Individuals of nearly every ethnic group are susceptible to contracting MS though rates vary. Research shows it is most prevalent among Caucasians of northern European ancestry. African-American women have a higher number of cases than previously recorded, according to recent findings.
Though the number of patients with MS rises, medical experts do not have evidence that MS is more prevalent today than in the past. Improved diagnostic methods and greater awareness may contribute to a higher number of cases.
Long-Term Effects of MS
Because the most common form of MS has a relapsing-remitting course of symptoms, it is not only painful and debilitating, it can also be confusing for patients. Damage to the nerve cells causes flare-ups, which means primary symptoms of the disease such as lack of coordination and dizziness repeat themselves. As burdensome as these lasting symptoms are, there’s also a category referred to as secondary symptoms that result from the body’s struggle with primary symptoms, says an article on VeryWellHealth.com.
Those physical problems include:
- Repeated urinary tract infections caused by dysfunction of the bladder
- Breakdown of muscle tone resulting from challenges to mobility
- Greater risk of bone fractures due to a decrease in bone density
- Pressure sores developing due to immobility
There are various experiences associated with MS but as an incurable condition, nearly all patients need to develop an acceptance of the lasting nature of the disease. They have to continually recalibrate the way to manage long-term challenges.
Mobility - It is normal for a person with MS to experience a gradual reduction in mobility. Approximately 33 percent of patients lose the ability to walk without help. They can sometimes manage to get around using a cane, crutches, or a wheelchair.
Cognitive dysfunction - To function at the highest levels, including memory, information processing, and problem-solving, you need a fully functioning nervous system. More than half of all people with MS experience a decline in cognitive abilities.
Problems with bladder and bowels - Many conditions, including age, cause bladder control problems; in the case of MS, about half of all patients have difficulties controlling both the bladder and bowels.
Because it’s an incurable disease, helping patients with MS involves comfort care and treatment aimed at managing symptoms. The fact that the chronic condition affects so many parts of the body means a holistic approach is most effective in slowing deterioration and maintaining mobility.
As experts in spine function, chiropractors have a considerable volume of treatment options for patients presenting with symptoms of multiple sclerosis. “Our aim is to address patient symptoms and reduce nerve interference through subluxations in the spine,” says Dr. Kevin Lees of The Joint Chiropractic in Scottsdale, Ariz. “We are not treating the actual disease of multiple sclerosis, but those patients may suffer joint stiffness and pain more often than most. Some MS patients are restricted to wheelchair use, others have an altered gait or spasticity, all of which can affect joint pain and back pain. Chiropractic adjustments may help relieve their symptoms of joint pain and decrease stress.”
Because every patient with MS has a different set of symptoms and emotional fortitude, a bespoke method of treatment is the most effective. Chiropractic care offers more than just comfort; a chiropractor’s attention to the healthy function of the spinal column means you’re getting treatment that centers on the core of the problem, which is the best way to ensure as much comfort as possible.
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