Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) symptoms can be improved and relieved with treatment including Acupuncture, Naturopathy and Osteopathy.
What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture forms part of the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine, with the underlying philosophy that it affects the smooth flow of energy throughout the body. Treatment aims to create balance and harmony where there are symptoms of ill health and pain, which often manifest as excess or deficient signs and symptoms.
What can Acupuncture do for MS?
The insertion of very fine sterile needles into specific points of the body, can bring about significant change to the body and its functions, increasing its own healing response, and restoring natural balance, thereby relieving some of the symptoms often experienced by people suffering with MS. For example, many report an improvement in their pain, anxiety, depression, fatigue and spasticity.
What is Naturopathy?
Naturopathy is a way of treating illness, which uses the natural healing forces present in the human body, in conjunction with nutrition, and sometimes supplements, in different forms.
Naturopathy is a form of medicine practiced widely throughout the world. It has the longest tradition of any healing system, and is the forerunner of modern medicine.
"Let food be our medicine and medicine be our food" - Hippocrates 400BC
What can Naturopathy do for MS?
It appears that diets high in gluten and milk are much more common in areas with a higher prevalence of MS, but most interest has centered around the role of dietary fat. The emphasis on dietary fat was quite extensively investigated in at least three double blind studies using supplementation with linoleic acid, (Millar JH, Zilkha KJ, Langman MJ, et al. Double-blind trial of linoleate supplementation of the diet in multiple sclerosis. BMJ 1973;1(5856):765-768), (Bates D, Fawcett PR, Shaw DA, Weightman D. Polyunsaturated fatty acids in treatment of acute remitting multiple sclerosis. BMJ 1978;2(6149):1390-1391), (Paty DW. Double-blind trial of linoleic acid in multiple sclerosis. Arch Neurol 1983;40(11):693-694).
Other supplements which have been suggested as possibly helpful are the antioxidants Selenium and vitamin E and the vitamin B12 and some pancreatic enzymes, on the grounds there is some suggestion of malabsorption in some people with MS. Another antioxidant extract sometimes used is Gingko biloba. This kind of dietary manipulation and supplementation is the kind of approach taken by Naturopaths. The literature is well reviewed by Murray and Pizzorno (Murray MT, Pizzorno JE. Multiple sclerosis. In: Pizzorno JE, Murray MT, editors. Textbook of natural medicine. 2nd editon. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone; 1999. p1415-1423), and most particularly, by Bowling and Stewart, (Bowling A C, Stewart T M. Current complementary and alternative therapies for multiple sclerosis. Curr Treat Options Neurol 2003;5:55-68).
What is Osteopathy?
Osteopathy is a form of drug free, non-invasive manual medicine, which focuses on total body health by treating and strengthening the musculoskeletal framework. Osteopathy treats the cause of the problem and not just the symptoms. Using a specially developed sense of touch Osteopaths investigate and identify the problem areas throughout the body and then select the treatment technique most appropriate to the individual, to encourage and help the body to return to its normal efficient function.
What can Osteopathy do for MS?
The use of specific manipulative techniques such as osteopathy appears to be fairly widespread amongst people with MS. There are many other forms of bodywork where a therapist has a hands-on guiding role to the individual's limbs and muscles. There is no literature specifically about MS and the common forms of manipulation (osteopathy and chiropractic), but the intent behind this approach is to reorganise the muscular and nervous system manually, which allows for improved functioning and promotes strength, flexibility and ease of movement. Sessions last about 30 minutes and focus on a particular movement pattern which may be problematic. The practitioner tries to help identify what the patient feels and then expands the range of feeling to improve function.
What is Multiple Sclerosis?
Multiple sclerosis is a chronic disease of the central nervous system. MS causes inflammation and the destruction of myelin. Myelin surrounds nerve fibres and acts like insulation on a wire preventing "short-circuits" that divert a nerve signal from having its desired effects. The "demyelination" process interferes with nerve impulse transmission. Repeated attacks can lead to a continual process of demyelination and remyelination, which produces nerve fibre scarring and progressive disability. MS is typically diagnosed in young adults between age 20 and age 40. Women are two times more likely to develop MS than men. MS is often a debilitating disease, affecting physical and cognitive abilities. MS is not considered fatal and those diagnosed commonly have unaffected life spans. There currently is no known cure for MS.
The cause of MS is currently unknown. Many believe it to be the result of a combination of genetic, environmental, and infectious origins. MS is not considered a hereditary or gene transmitted disease. However, the overall risk of developing MS is higher in relatives of a person with the disease than if not. Current data indicates familial recurrence rate of around 20%. This suggests that some genetic influence or predisposition should be considered and evaluated by research. Environmentally MS appears to be more common in people who live farther from the equator than those who do not. Decreased sunlight exposure and decreased vitamin D production have been associated with higher risk for MS. Researchers have explored several infectious causes and hypothesis have been made without substantial factual scientific clarity proving or disproving influence of Multiple Sclerosis.
How does MS manifest?
Multiple sclerosis can cause a variety of symptoms and is often individualised to each patient.
- Bladder problems appear in 80% of MS patients. The most common problems are an increase of frequency and incontinence. Some patients with Multiple Sclerosis have inability to begin urination, leaking, retention, and sensation of full bladder. Urinary tract infections are common with MS
- Cognitive impairments occur in about 40 to 60 percent of patients with multiple sclerosis. Some of the most common deficits are in recent memory, attention, processing speed, emotional instability, visual-spatial abilities, and executive function. Symptoms range from mild to severe. Dementia is uncommon with Multiple Sclerosis
- Emotional symptoms are common with Multiple Sclerosis. Clinical depression is the most common emotional condition associated with MS. Depression rates of those with MS are higher than within the general population, as well as other patients/groups who are diagnosed with chronic illnesses. Suicide accounts for approximately 15% of the deaths from patients diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis
- Fatigue is a common and often disabling symptom of MS. When evaluating fatigue associated with MS, depression should also be evaluated and treated. Depression itself can cause the symptoms of fatigue
- Restrictions in mobility are common in individuals suffering from multiple sclerosis. Most people diagnosed with MS will have difficulty walking, or in mobility, and require the use of an aid or wheelchair at some point. One third of patients diagnosed will require the use of such devices within 5 years of their diagnosis
- Vision Problems are very common in MS. Up to 50% of patients with MS will develop an episode of optic neuritis. Individuals experience rapid onset of pain in one eye, followed by blurry vision. The blurred vision usually goes away but the patient may have decreased colour vision or decreased ability to focus. Many people with MS also experience episodes of double vision and involuntary eye movement, which make focusing difficult
- Chronic Pain is a common symptom in MS. It usually appears after a lesion to the ascending or descending tracts that control the transmission of painful stimulus. Acute temporary pain is common as well as the result of the disease process. Narcotic pain control methods are typically effective for treating pain associated with MS
- Lhermitte's sign is an electrical sensation that runs down the back and into the limbs. The sign suggests a lesion of the dorsal columns of the cervical cord. Between 25% and 40% of MS patients report having Lhermitte's sign during the course of their disease progressing
- Dysesthesias are abnormal sensations produced by ordinary activities. The abnormal sensations are often described as painful feelings such as burning, itching, electricity, or pins and needle. These are caused by lesions of the sensory pathways
- Sexual dysfunction often affects those with MS. The prevalence of sexual dysfunction in men with MS is around 85%, with erectile dysfunction being the most documented sexual symptom of MS
- Spasticity is common in MS. Spasticity is characterized by increased stiffness in limb movement, development of certain postures, weakness of voluntary muscle power, and involuntary spasms
- Transverse myelitis is a rapid onset of numbness, weakness, and loss of muscle function in the lower half of the body. This is the result of MS attacking the spinal cord. The symptoms and signs depend upon the level of the spinal cord involved and the extent of the involvement. Prognosis for complete recovery is generally poor. Roughly 80% of individuals with transverse myelitis have permanent symptoms from transverse myelitis
- Tremors are frequent and common with MS. Tremors can be severe and disabling. Commonly, individuals with MS will experience tremors in the hands, arms, and legs
What evidence is available?
- The Cochrane Library Acupuncture for multiple sclerosis
- Sage journals online Use of unconventional therapies by individuals with multiple sclerosis
- Holistic Nursing Practice Use of alternative health therapies by people with multiple sclerosis: An exploratory study
- Sage journals online Comparison of the effect of two types of acupuncture on quality of life in secondary progressive multiple sclerosis: a preliminary single-blind randomized controlled trial
- Multiple Sclerosis Trust Acupuncture
- Miller RE. An investigation into the management of the spasticity experienced by some patients with multiple sclerosis using acupuncture based on traditional Chinese medicine. Compl Ther Med 1996;4:58-62.
- Fawcett J, Sidney JS, Riley-Lawless K, et al. An exploratory study of the relationship between alternative therapies, functional status, and symptom severity among people with multiple sclerosis. J Holistic Nurs 1996;14(2):115-129.
Where can you find us?
Our clinics in Cambridgeshire and London offer Acupuncture
, Trigger Point Therapy
, Sports Injury
and Deep Tissue Massage
treatments for an extensive range of conditions.
Our Sawtry clinic covers a wide area from Peterborough to Huntingdon and St. Neots, while at the Steeple Morden clinic we receive patients from Baldock and Royston, plus Ashwell and all over North Herts.
From Deeping St James, our most rural clinic attracts patients from Stamford, Spalding and Peterborough.