Managing MS requires a comprehensive care approach that maximizes and enhances the brain's ability to protect and repair itself and to promote quality of life for patients and their families. It is also an ongoing process, beginning with the very first symptoms and continuing throughout the disease course. It’s never too soon or too late to think about how to access and best utilize quality care. Knowing what to look for, where to find it, and how to work effectively with your doctor and other health professionals is a vital part of managing MS.
The symptoms of MS depend on which areas of the brain and spinal cord develop MS lesions. For example, if the nerve that is involved in vision (the optic nerve) develops a lesion, blurring of vision occurs. This is referred to as optic neuritis. If a lesion develops in the part of the brain that produces movement on the left side of the body, left-sided weakness develops. In addition to visual blurring and weakness, other common MS symptoms include fatigue, depression, urinary difficulties, walking unsteadiness, stiffness in the arms or legs, tingling, and numbness.
After a multiple sclerosis diagnosis, it is common to experience many unique emotions. People often report feeling irritable, tearful, anxious, or distracted. They may describe themselves as depressed as a result of the diagnosis and unable to tolerate the idea of an uncertain future. These experiences are very normal. After any surprising, traumatic event, we are expected to take some time to adjust and come to grips with our feelings. Well-meaning friends and family members will sometimes encourage newly diagnosed people to "put mind over matter”, to “be strong”, to "not think about the MS", or to “get over” their fears.
Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is a controversial area. In fact, even the term and its definition are not entirely agreed upon. Besides complementary and alternative medicine, other frequently used terms are unconventional medicine and integrative medicine. The term complementary medicine refers to therapies that are used in addition to conventional medicine, while the term alternative medicine is used to describe treatment that is used instead of conventional medicine.