Multiple Sclerosis, also known as MS, is an autoimmune condition where the immune system attacks the brain or spinal cord of the nervous system. Specifically, the immune system attacks the myelin sheath, the layer that surrounds and protects the nerves, damaging and scarring them. This is why people diagnosed with MS often report symptoms of muscle numbness or tingling sensations. Other symptoms include chronic fatigue, lack of mental focus, and loss of bladder control, among many others.
Millions of people around the world have been diagnosed with MS and its global prevalence is on the rise. In Australia, about 2 people are diagnosed with MS every day, with 3 out of 4 being women. The average age of people diagnosed with MS is between 20 and 40. This makes MS one of the leading causes of disability in younger adults and a cause of concern when it comes to productivity and quality of life in this segment of the population.
MS can start either with individual attacks (otherwise known as Relapsing Remitting MS) or gradual progression (Primary Progressive MS). In the former, individuals can have episodes of worsening symptoms that last a few days, weeks, or months, before improving and going into remission. In the latter, individuals will experience symptoms that accumulate over the years with no periods of remission. However, two-thirds of people diagnosed with Relapsing Remitting MS will develop secondary Progressive MS.
The cause of Multiple Sclerosis is not yet known but is thought to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors. It has currently no cure but a number of treatments are being used to ease the symptoms and control the condition. This includes medications to treat relapses along with disease-modifying therapies.
MS can make a person feel tired more easily, experience problems in maintaining balance and coordination, as well as have an abnormal increase in muscle tone that causes stiffness – all of which makes the idea of engaging in exercise a rather daunting task. However, the benefits of physical activities have been shown to outweigh the challenges of exercising.
Multiple Sclerosis and Exercise: Moderation is key
People diagnosed with MS stand to benefit from moderate physical activity that lasts for at least 30 minutes and is done three times a week. The operative word is ‘moderate’ which means to start gently and ease into the activity.
Regular aerobic exercise can improve strength and balance, improve bladder and bowel control, and decrease spasticity or the abnormal increase of muscle tone if approached gently. Working out can also help address the issue of obesity which can worsen symptoms such as fatigue, mood swings, difficulty sleeping, and lack of mobility.
It is recommended that the body is kept cool to avoid a rise in body temperature that is associated with tingling sensations or numbness.
Why Hydrotherapy and Pool Exercises are Good for MS
People with MS may be able to derive great benefits from hydrotherapy and aquatic exercises. The water adds buoyancy, making the limbs feel lighter, and decreases strain on the joints. The water also adds resistance, helping the muscles get stronger. The cooler temperature can also prevent the body from overheating as well as potentially ease the tingling sensation and numbness that can result from rising body temperature.
Doing aquatic exercises also provides a host of other benefits as well. The water serves as a relaxing environment to move the limbs and strengthen the muscles. Moving through the water can also improve endurance, increase circulation, and reduce discomfort.
Multiple Sclerosis can be a challenging condition to live with as fatigue, difficulty in thinking, as well as balance and coordination issues, can make movement taxing. However, it shouldn’t get in the way of physical activity since exercise can help a lot in easing not only the physical challenges of MS but also the mental issues that the condition brings – anxiety and depression that comes from the unpredictability and uncertainty of MS. It bears repeating that the key is moderation. That and a program tailored especially for you and your needs by a knowledgeable Physiotherapist can help you not just cope with this condition but thrive and live more fully.
Multiple Sclerosis Clinic in Melton
Healthstin has complete facilities in all its Allied Health Clinic locations for helping people diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. In just one convenient location, patients can work out in the gym or the pool for a more holistic approach. Our hydrotherapy pools like the one in Healthstin Melton can serve as a great venue for aquatic exercises for Multiple Sclerosis patients. To help ease you into your workout, our team of expert Physiotherapists is always ready to assist and guide you in working out safely and effectively. Reach out to us by calling 1300 090 931 to know more or book an appointment.