A multidisciplinary approach to multiple sclerosis is necessary to preserve and even improve the overall quality of life of multiple sclerosis patients. This is the message of a recent review at Medscape.
Multiple sclerosis (MS), a chronic heterogeneous disease with variable course, often imposes a substantial burden on the community, family, and individual, with notable negative effects on patient function and quality-of-life.
Multiple sclerosis causes pain, physical impairment and disability but the effects even go deeper down to psychosocial and neuropsychological problems. Thus, traditional approaches that address only the physical impairment is not effective in improving the quality of life of the patients. Here are some ways to help improve the quality life of multiple sclerosis patients, ways which go beyond standard care:
Fatigue. Fatigue is part of the daily life of an MS patient. It may be caused by the disease itself but may also be due to sleeping problems. There pharmacological approaches to managing insomnia but there are also non-pharmacological approaches such as:
- Regular exercise
- Energy conservation strategies
- Lifestyle modification
Depression. Many patients with MS suffer from depressive symptoms, which can also be linked to fatigue and insomnia. Pharmacologic therapy using anti-depressants is possible. Examples of nonpharmacologic approaches are cognitive-behavior therapy and group psychotherapy. However, physical therapy and exercise are also known to reduce depressive symptoms. A combination of pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic therapy may also be beneficial.
Cognitive dysfunction. Loss of memory and disorientation are some of the cognitive effects of MS. There are no approved drugs for the treatment of cognitive dysfunction associated with MS. However, there are a lot of nonpharmacologic interventions including
- cognitive rehabilitation
- lifestyle changes
- compensation strategies ,e.g. taking notes, making lists, and improved organization
Bladder and bowel dysfunction. Bladder problems, even incontinence are common about MS patients. So are diarrhea and constipation. Drugs are most commonly used to manage these symptoms but proper diet and a regular daily bowel output routine may also be helpful.
Pain. The pain that MS patients suffer from may or may be due to MS, or may be an effect of MS treatment. Pain is also linked to lack of sleep and fatigue. Medications to manage pain and spasms are usually prescribed.
Finally, MS patients need a strong support group or network, family and friends who will always be there for them.
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