Exercise for Multiple Sclerosis

What is Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is one of the most common chronic neurological diseases. There is no single cause for MS, however, evidence shows genetic and environmental factors may be contributing factors..

In MS, the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks and damages the protective sheath (called the myelin) that surrounds the nerves in our body. When the myelin becomes damaged, the electrical messages that are conducted through our nerves become disrupted. This means that the brain can no longer send or receive messages to and from the rest of the body. This can result in various symptoms.

Multiple Sclerosis Neuron

There are three different variations of MS:

Relapsing remittent MS (RRMS): the most common type – there is clearly defined attacks (relapses), which are followed by periods of partial or complete recovery (remission).

Secondary progressive MS (SPMS): People diagnosed with RRMS may transition to SPMS in which there is a progressive worsening of neurological function over time without remission.

Primary progressive MS (PPMS): this is when there is worsening neurological function from the onset of symptoms. In this type of MS, there are no episodes of relapses or remissions.  

Symptoms and impairments of MS:

MS can be experienced in different parts of the body, and no two people with MS will experience the same symptoms. However, the following symptoms that are common in MS are:

  • Dysesthesia/MS hug (a feeling of squeezing sensation).
  • Visual disturbance.
  • Fatigue.
  • Numbness or tingling in face, body or extremities.
  • Muscle weakness.
  • Spasticity (feelings of stiffness and involuntary muscle spasms).
  • Walking difficulties.
  • Cognitive changes.
  • Emotional changes – including depression and anxiety.
  • Bladder and bowel problems.
  • Vertigo and dizziness.

Benefits of exercising with MS:

There is emerging evidence that that exercise therapy may be neuroprotective for people with MS. As physical activity works in conjunction with the brain, exercise has been shown to initiate changes that protect nerve cells against damage and deterioration. This in turn may slow down the progression of MS.

For people with MS who experience fatigue and muscle weakness, it is recommended that people with MS exercise for at least 30 minutes twice a week. This may reduce fatigue, improve mobility, and enhance mental and social functioning in their daily life. Furthermore, increasing mobility and reducing fatigue may lower the risk of injury, which may further impact on how people with MS live their lives. You can find out more about MS and how SCNR can support you here https://scnr.com.au/conditions/multiple-sclerosis/.

Here at Sunshine Coast Neuro Rehab, our Sunshine Coast Physiotherapists understand you and your condition. We support people with multiple sclerosis to achieve more function, greater independence and quality of life. If you are interested in making an appointment, please make a booking by calling (07) 5448 115 or email admin@scnr.com.au

Kira Oddling (APAM)