Alternative and Complementary Treatments for MS
The symptoms of multiple sclerosis are unpredictable and can be difficult to deal with. They may come and go periodically, or they may develop and increase steadily over time. Medicines and other treatments prescribed by your doctor can help to reduce symptoms, but you may wish to seek further relief with alternative and complementary treatments. While there is no evidence that these additional treatments can change the course of the disease, here are a few that have had positive results in some individuals.
Acupuncture – a treatment derived from ancient Chinese medicine in which fine needles are inserted at certain sites in the body – is used as a complementary treatment for a number of different health problems, both physical and mental. Some small studies have suggested that acupuncture may reduce pain and fatigue in MS sufferers, as well as improving mood. However, there is no evidence that it can reduce the frequency of MS exacerbations or slow down the progression of the condition.
Massage is generally used to relax muscles and reduce stress, which can be helpful for MS patients. It may also help to reduce pain, improve circulation and prevent pressure sores. However, massage should not be used if pressure sores or reddened areas of inflammation are already present.
If one of your symptoms is problems using language, speech therapy may be able to help you improve your communication. The therapist may provide you with exercises to strengthen or relax the muscles controlling the vocal cords, or exercises to help with the movement of the jaw, tongue or lips. They may encourage you to practise breathing in and out in a controlled way so that you can make longer sentences in one breath. Your speech therapist will carry out a series of tests to determine which parts of the speech process have been affected for you, and will form a treatment plan to fit your personal needs.
Botox injections are useful for more than just cosmetic purposes. For MS patients, they’re sometimes used to relieve muscle spasms and alleviate bladder problems. Botox can calm the bladder muscle so that the body is able to remove waste more effectively.
Vitamins and Minerals
A healthy diet is particularly important for MS sufferers, as eating nutritionally balanced meals helps the body work to its full potential. A good diet will allow you to get all of the vitamins and minerals you need to assist numerous processes in the body, including tissue repair, the building of bone strength and the absorption of other nutrients. In some cases, patients find it helpful to take supplements to ensure they’re providing their body with everything it needs. B12 supplements can be particularly useful as this vitamin plays an important role in the formation of new cells, including nerve cells.
If you’re interested in trying out an alternative or complementary treatment, it’s important to discuss it with your doctor, who can tell you about possible side effects and how it might affect your current treatment. You may also want to talk to other MS patients who have used the same therapy so you can ask them about what it was like, and get a clearer idea of what to expect.