Living with MS and the Challenges in 2019 Modern times

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a condition that affects the brain and the spinal cord. It occurs when the protective coating of the nerves, called myelin, is damaged, resulting in a range of symptoms such as fatigue, pains, numbness and tingling, vision problems, bladder problems, depression and anxiety. 

Statistics shows that an approximately of 1.2 million people worldwide live with MS, with about 400,000 of this number living with the condition in the US and 100,000 in the UK. 

What causes MS (or why its progression is hard to determine) is still largely unknown to researchers. The good news, however, is that the conditions are often not severe and most people living with MS can still live a normal or near-normal life. A great place for people with MS to chat and make friends is the fantastic multiple sclerosis charity Shift.ms. The charity has a very active forum, works hard to raise money and awareness for the condition and helps people live normal and active lives. They are always looking for volunteers.

Treatments for Multiple Sclerosis

Once diagnosed, MS stays with the individual for life. However, continuous research in that field of medical science has started to yield some breakthroughs and persons with MS are now able to better manage the condition and its symptoms. 

1. Disease-Modifying Drugs (DMDs) 

For people with relapsing-remitting MS, a type of multiple sclerosis with less gentle symptoms, their doctor may recommend a disease-modifying drug (DMD) treatment. DMDs slow down the progress of MS and prevent flare-ups.

The drugs work by limiting the functions of the body’s immune system – which defends the body against germs – so it doesn’t attack myelin, the coating that protects the nerves.

At the moment, DMDs are regarded as the best methods to curb the advancement of MS conditions in an individual, as they help to minimise the frequency and intensity of relapses, attacks or exacerbation. The drugs also prevent the development of new lesions, and slow down the progression of disability. 

Some of the drugs can be taken as injections under the skin or into a muscle, and the shot could make the skin sore, red, itchy or dimply. Below are some types of DMDs your doctor may recommend to you. 

Ocrelizumab (Ocrevus)

Just as with many other MS treatments, Ocrelizumab is an immunosuppressant drug, and is the latest addition to the DMD repertoire. Unlike other DMDs that target T cells, Ocrelizumab targets a subset of B cells which are believed to aid in the destruction of myelin.

Beta Interferons

Beta Interferons are a list of some of the most common DMDs. They reduce the intensity and frequency of flares, but often come with temporary bye-effects such as fatigue, fever, chills and other flu-like symptoms. Examples of Beta Interferons are Avonex, Betaseron, Extavia, Plegridy, and Rebif. 

Laquinimod

The research work on this MS treatment drug have reached Phase III and current results show that, compared with a placebo, Laquinimod has the capacity to reduce annual relapse rate  by  23 percent, disability progression by 33 percent, and brain volume loss by 44 percent.

Other common DMDs are AHSCTMD1003, and Siponimod

2. Antioxidant

According to a new study, Lipoic, an over-the-counter antioxidant, may be effective in the treatment of MS. The researchers at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland report a 68 percent improvement – compared with a placebo – in slowing the rate of whole brain atrophy when using the antioxidant. 

3. Exercises and Endurance Training 

In the past, people living with MS were advised to avoid anything that strains the muscles, as it was thought exercises may worsen some of the common symptoms of the condition such as fatigue and pain. 

As it turns out, that was wrong advice. New studies have shown that, on the contrary, regular, mild exercises are good for building and sustaining good health and wellness for people living with MS. There are now scientific proofs that exercises and endurance trainings can help with many symptoms of MS, boost strength and mobility, maintain a healthy weight, sharpen the mind and body, and generally improve with the quality of life. 

However, before you start an exercise regime or program, be sure to talk to an expert or qualified medical professional to help you decide on the right exercise for you and the intensity level. 

4. Aerobic Training

Aerobic trainings are unique exercises that make your heart beat faster as you move your limbs or body parts quickly. This may include running, dancing, or playing a team sport such as football or volleyball. 

Aerobic exercises are great for your cardiovascular health; and engaging in light trainings can improve blood pressure and the amount of healthy fats in the body. It also decreases the amount of fat in the body, improves brain volume, and helps to maintain a healthy weight – among other benefits. 

Are we on the cusp of a cure for MS?

Presently, there is no known cure for MS. However, we are at a critical stage wherein medical scientists are making significant progress in the search for a solution that will rid our world of MS. For example, the results of early experiments with test mice show that we may be able to achieve paralysis reversal in MS

Today, more researches are being undertaken than ever before and the disease is being diagnosed at a faster rate, which ensures there is now early treatment to slow the progress of MS. There is also improved awareness of the common and associated symptoms of the disease and how to better manage them to improve the quality of life.

Want to know more about living with MS and the symptoms? shift.ms have recently put out a campaign about it, it starts with love island's Paul Knobs learning about the pitfalls with Ellen Marshall who is living with MS.