What are MS Treatments?
While there is no cure for MS, there are many MS treatments that can be helpful in delaying the progress of disability caused by the disease. Including certain FDA-approved medications (not listed here) that Dr. Gonzalez, our neurologist and Dr. O’Neil-Smith, our endocrinologist can prescribe if needed.
What you eat affects all areas of your body, including your brain. So, with MS, it is important to start a diet that lowers inflammation in the brain. To do this, there are foods you can remove from and add to your diet. For example, removing refined sugar, corn syrup, and certain grains will lower inflammation. Adding Omega 3 fats from salmon and tuna is also helpful, and vegetables rich in antioxidants will help improve your memory. Coconut, olive oil, and avocado are good sources of fats that help the brain heal. Drinking enough water also helps the brain, and it is crucial that you get restorative sleep. Martha Lindsay is a nutrition educator and a member of our Brain Health Team of Experts.
MS can cause memory issues, so working with a Speech/Language Pathologist (SLP) can help you learn new methods of storing and recalling information. Amy Karas is on our team of Brain Health Experts, she specializes in brain injury and is trained in helping with the cognitive and memory issues related to MS.
There are many therapies that help with motor issues and chronic pain. Physical therapy, for example, helps with balance, motor skills, and the movement, tone, spasm, and strength of your muscles. PT can also aid general inflammation and muscle pain. Cranial Sacral methods, which can be done by our physical therapist Anthony C. Percoco on our brain health team, are effective in working with PCS muscle problems, For more in depth rehab, you may need to see a Physiatrist, which is a medical doctor who specializes in physical medicine and rehab.
In the same way, many types of massage therapy such as Repetitive Use Injury Therapy (RUIT), structural and integrative massage are also very helpful. If you have any form of paralysis, the Taub Method, invented by Dr. Edward Taub, is a revolutionary approach to physical therapy. His method uses restrictive therapy, in which the limbs that work are restrained, so that the body/brain is forced to reconnect with the paralyzed limbs.
Indirect Physical Therapy
Many types of indirect physical therapy treatments are designed to heal and strengthen muscles and improve balance, coordination, and flexibility. One of these, the Burdenko Method, involves water- and land-based exercises. The water part is done in a vertical position using flotation devices to allow gravity to gently separate the bones in the spine (traction). Land exercises are the same, but out of water. Dr. Burdenko just happens to be a member of our Brain Health Team of Experts.
Another form of indirect physical therapy, the Feldenkrais Method, is a series of subtle exercises designed to retrain your body’s movement patterns for pain control and better motor function. A practitioner teaches you different ways of moving to replace patterns that may aggravate your injury. Therapeutic horseback riding also helps to improve balance, coordination, and physical stability.
Biofeedback & Neurofeedback
Biofeedback is a treatment that you can find through MS rehab hospital programs. This treatment can be helpful in many situations. For example, Thermal and EMG Biofeedback boosts muscle response and coordination, as well as controls discomfort. Neurofeedback balances activity in the motor areas of the brain, which improves reflexes. All of these methods, however, can be a challenge for people with attention issues. Dr. Diane® has successfully worked with many MS patients using Neurofeedback.
Movement and dance therapy are forms of dynamic therapy that force the brain to adapt to injury. By using different body parts to help with motor movement, the brain can form new nerve connections and replace those affected by the injury. Music and dance therapy combine movement and sensory input, and many colleges, special-education services, and dance studios offer them.
Occupational Therapy is helpful if you have fine motor issues or if you must learn new ways to do complex tasks at home or work. You could choose to try cognitive retraining, which can also help you learn new ways to do complex tasks. On the other hand, vocational therapy helps you learn skills that prepare you for different jobs.
Acupuncture and light therapy can relax muscle spasms that are common with MS. Chiropractic work helps to realign the vertebrae in the neck, improving blood flow and nerve communication to the muscles. This method also gives more freedom of movement and creates added space between the joints. Many chiropractors also use myofascial (muscle) release to increase circulation. William Mogan, Tom Tam, Yvonne Tam and Anthony Percoco are our acupuncturists, and Dr. Paul Schoonman and Dr. Lorraine McGee are chiropractors. They are all on our Brain Health Team of Experts.
Polarity therapy boosts the flow of internal energy and moves the body to heal itself. Because of this, this type of treatment may be helpful with the muscle and movement problems found with MS. Some also believe that reorganizing the body’s energy and internal flow can help improve balance and coordination. This is a hands-on method that should be done by a trained polarity therapist. More information can be found through The American Polarity Therapy Association.
Herbal remedies such as Bungaris, and Carbo vegetabilis can help with balance, muscle tone, and strength. Before trying any over-the-counter herbal or homeopathic remedy, however, it is best to talk with an Herbalist or Homeopath who knows your specific problems and needs. Susan Keefe is a Homeopathic Practitioner and is on our Brain Health Team.
FDA-approved MS treatments
There are two types of FDA-approved MS treatments: Disease-Modifying Agents and Symptomatic Therapy Treatments. Disease-Modifying Agents are designed to control the immune response and the inflammation caused by the disease.
- ACTH (Adrenocorticotropic hormone)
- Intravenous corticosteroids
- Immunomodulating agents
- Immunosuppressive agents.
Symptomatic Therapy Treatments
- Physical and emotional rest
- Amantadine or Modafinil for fatigue
- Baclofen or Tizanidine, alone or combined, or Neurontin for spasticity
- Carbamazepine for paroxysmal dystonia or other paroxysmal manifestations
- Intermittent catheterization for urinary retention
- Anticholinergics for controlling nocturia.