Multiple Sclerosis MS & (CAM for MS)

DEF- Multiple sclerosis, or MS, is a long-lasting disease that can affect your brain, spinal cord, and the optic nerves in your eyes. It can cause problems with vision, balance, muscle control, and other basic body functions. The effects are often different for everyone who has the disease.

This fact sheet is provided to help you understand the current evidence regarding complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) for treatment of multiple sclerosis(MS). The American Academy of Neurology (AAN) is the world’s largest association of neurologists and neuroscience professionals.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) involves an immune-mediated process in which an abnormal response of the body’s immune system is directed against the central nervous system (CNS), which is made up of the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves. The exact antigen — or target that the immune cells are sensitized to attack — remains unknown, which is why MS is considered by many experts to be “immune-mediated” rather than “autoimmune.”

  • Within the CNS, the immune system attacks myelin — the fatty substance that surrounds and insulates the nerve fibers — as well as the nerve fibers themselves.
  • The damaged myelin forms scar tissue (sclerosis), which gives the disease its name.
  • When any part of the myelin sheath or nerve fiber is damaged or destroyed, nerve impulses traveling to and from the brain and spinal cord are distorted or interrupted, producing a wide variety of symptoms.
  • The disease is thought to be triggered in a genetically susceptible individual by a combination of one or more environmental factors.
  • People with MS typically experience one of four disease courses, which can be mild, moderate or severe.

What are the symptoms of MS in adults?


Common early signs of multiple sclerosis (MS) include:
  • vision problems.
  • tingling and numbness.
  • pains and spasms.
  • weakness or fatigue.
  • balance problems or dizziness.
  • bladder issues.
  • sexual dysfunction.
  • cognitive problems.

When it comes to the prognosis for multiple sclerosis (MS), there’s both good news and bad news. Although there is no known cure for MS, there is some good news about life expectancy. Because MS is not a fatal disease, people who have MS essentially have the same life expectancy as the general population. In the most common type (known as relapsing remitting MS), symptoms come and go. These can run the gamut from mild tingling to more severe vision loss. However,MS is tricky. Because so many other conditions can also cause similar symptoms, a hypochondriac could easily think they have it when they don’t. Women are more than twice as likely to develop multiple sclerosis as men. Multiple sclerosis usually affects people between the ages of 20 and 50 years, and the average age of onset is approximately 34 years. Multiple sclerosis does not affect the joints directly, like other conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, or lupus, which can cause the degeneration of the cartilage or inflammation in the joints. However, joint pain is very common in people with MS, specifically in the knees and hips.


While the cause (etiology) of MS is still not known, scientists believe that the interaction of several different factors may be involved. To answer this important question, studies are ongoing in the areas of immunology (the science of the body’s immune system), epidemiology (the study of patterns of disease in the population) and genetics. Scientists are also studying infectious agents that may play a role. Understanding what causes MS will speed the process of finding more effective ways to treat it and — ultimately — cure it, or even prevent it from occurring in the first place.

Immunologic Factors

In MS, an abnormal immune-mediated response attacks the myelin coating around nerve fibers in the central nervous system, as well as the nerve fibers themselves. In recent years, researchers have been able to identify which immune cells are mounting the attack, some of the factors that cause them to attack, and some of the sites (receptors) on the attacking cells that appear to be attracted to the myelin to begin the destructive process. Ongoing efforts to learn more about the immune-mediated process in MS — what sets it in motion, how it works, and how to slow or stop it — are bringing us closer to understanding the cause of MS.

Environmental Factors

MS is known to occur more frequently in areas that are farther from the equator. Epidemiologists — scientists who study disease patterns — are looking at variations in geography, demographics (age, gender and ethnic background), genetics, infectious causes and migration patterns in an effort to understand why.

Studies have shown that people born in an area with a high risk of MS who then move — or migrate — to an area with a lower risk before the age of 15 assume the risk of their new area. Such data suggest that exposure to some environmental agent before puberty may predispose a person to develop MS later on.

Growing evidence suggests that vitamin D plays an important role. People who live closer to the equator are exposed to greater amounts of sunlight year-round. As a result, they tend to have higher levels of naturally-produced vitamin D, which is thought to support immune function and may help protect against immune-mediated diseases like MS. The possible relationship between MS and sunlight exposure is currently being looked at in a Society-funded epidemiological study in Australia.

The evidence is also growing that smoking plays an important role in MS. Studies have shown that smoking increases a person’s risk of developing MS and is associated with more severe disease and more rapid disease progression. Fortunately, the evidence also suggests that stopping smoking — whether before or after the onset of MS — is associated with a slower progression of disability.

MS “clusters” — the perception that very high numbers of cases of MS have occurred in a specific time period or location — may provide clues to environmental or genetic risk for the disease. So far, cluster studies in MS have not produced clear evidence for the existence of any causative or triggering factor or factors in MS.

Infectious Factors

Since initial exposure to numerous viruses, bacteria and other microbes occurs during childhood, and since viruses are well-recognized as causes of demyelination and inflammation, it is possible that a virus or other infectious agent is the triggering factor in MS. More than a dozen viruses and bacteria — including measles, canine distemper, human herpes virus-6, Epstein-Barr, and Chlamydia pneumonia — have been or are being investigated to determine if they are involved in the development of MS, but none have been definitively proven to trigger MS.

Genetic Factors

While MS is not hereditary, having a first-degree relative such as a parent or sibling with MS does significantly increase an individual’s risk of developing the disease. Studies have shown that there is a higher prevalence of certain genes in populations with higher rates of MS. Common genetic factors have also been found in some families where there is more than one person with MS. Some researchers theorize that MS develops because a person is born with a genetic predisposition to react to some environmental agent that, upon exposure, triggers an immune-mediated response. Sophisticated new techniques for identifying genes are helping to answer questions about the role of genes in the development of MS.

MS Facts




Massage for Multiple Sclerosis

If you’re interested in pursuing therapeutic massage for MS, get the green light from your doctor first.

Massage is just one component of feeling better. Exercising, eating a healthy diet, getting adequate sleep and taking the appropriate MS medications are all crucial parts of a treatment plan. “Managing MS can be stressful,”

Massage therapy is one of most common complementary and alternative medical (CAM) practices used by MS patients [4]. … Preoperative massage treatments have been shown to reduce pain, anxiety, and tension in patients undergoing cardiac surgery. Many people with multiple sclerosis receive regular massage therapy to help relax and reduce stress.” Along with stress reduction, massage can help increase flexibility which improves your mobility, and can help reduce muscle stiffness caused by spasticity. But perhaps the greatest benefit is reduction of pain.

How Massage Helps

Therapeutic massage for MS has a physical effect beyond relaxation. Significant benefits for MS patients appear to be reduced spasticity and pain, improved circulation and increased muscle and joint flexibility.

“I have had some patients report good results in terms of less pain, less spasticity and better mobility with massage,” says Dr. Robert Shin, a neurologist at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital in Washington.

Stress reduction also winds up being an important benefit of therapeutic massage for MS. A small 2016 study suggested that massage therapy was associated with an improved quality of life, along with decreased fatigue and pain

MS and Muscle Challenges

 With MS, the body attacks the covering of the nerves (called the myelin sheath) as well as the nerve fibers in the brain, optic nerves and spinal column. In most MS patients, this damage occurs in waves or flare-ups, and then goes into remission. In a smaller percentage of MS patients, the attack never stops.

The damage left behind by the attacks and the scars that form as the body attempts repairs make it harder for nerves to communicate. This can cause many problems, such as cognitive decline and mood disorders. Damage to the central nervous system also means that muscles may not get the message to coordinate properly, they may freeze or become rigid (spastic), they may tire easily, hurt and weaken without use. “When you have scarring to the myelin sheath, it doesn’t allow for a normal flow of electrical impulses. Movements slow down. It’s not coordinated or smooth,” Porambo says.

Resulting muscle problems can lead to trouble walking or maintaining balance and difficulty using your arms or hands to eat, dress, bathe or use a computer



Further Reading

The Effects of Massage Therapy on Multiple Sclerosis Patients’ Quality of Life and Leg Function

National MS Society

Just the Facts – National Multiple Sclerosis Society

27 MS Facts for World MS Day

Five Important Facts About Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis (MS Symptoms, Causes, and Life Expectancy)

The Benefits of Therapeutic Massage for MS



*Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider.
Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.
The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended as diagnosis, treatment, or prescription of any kind. The decision to use, or not to use, any information is the sole responsibility of the reader. All trademarks, registered trademarks, brand names, registered brand names, logos, and company logos referenced in this post are the property of their owners.

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