Living with MS means constant adjusting and changing your life and your environment.
This can put a lot of strain on the person living with MS and their family and friends.
Coping with everything after being diagnosed with MS can be accompanied by anticipation, uncertainty and anxiety about the future. Making the changes and getting used to the new lifestyle can put real pressure on the person and their family and can mean redefining all responsibilities and roles. At George Springall Homecare, we understand these challenges and can provide care and support to help you and your family through the difficult times.
What is MS?
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a demyelinating disease in which the insulating covers of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord are damaged. This damage disrupts the ability of parts of the nervous system to communicate, resulting in a range of signs and symptoms, including physical, mental, and sometimes psychiatric problems. Specific symptoms can include double vision, blindness in one eye, muscle weakness, trouble with sensation, or trouble with coordination. MS takes several forms, with new symptoms either occurring in isolated attacks (relapsing forms) or building up over time (progressive forms). Between attacks, symptoms may disappear completely; however, permanent neurological problems often remain, especially as the disease advances.
While the cause is not clear, the underlying mechanism is thought to be either destruction by the immune system or failure of the myelin-producing cells. Proposed causes for this include genetics and environmental factors such as being triggered by a viral infection. MS is usually diagnosed based on the presenting signs and symptoms and the results of supporting medical tests.
Multiple sclerosis is the most common autoimmune disorder affecting the central nervous system. The disease usually begins between the ages of 20 and 50 and is twice as common in women as in men. The name multiple sclerosis refers to the numerous scars (sclerae—better known as plaques or lesions) that develop on the white matter of the brain and spinal cord.
Signs and symptoms
A person with MS can have almost any neurological symptom or sign, with autonomic, visual,
motor, and sensory problems being the most common. The specific symptoms are determined
by the locations of the lesions within the nervous system, and may include loss of sensitivity or
changes in sensation such as tingling, pins and needles or numbness, muscle weakness, very
pronounced reflexes, muscle spasms, or difficulty in moving; difficulties with coordination and
balance (ataxia); problems with speech or swallowing, visual problems (nystagmus, optic neuritis
or double vision), feeling tired, acute or chronic pain, and bladder and bowel difficulties, among
others. Difficulties thinking and emotional problems such as depression or unstable mood are
also common. Uhthoff's phenomenon, a worsening of symptoms due to exposure to higher
than usual temperatures, and Lhermitte's sign, an electrical sensation that runs down the back
when bending the neck, are particularly characteristic of MS. The main measure of disability
and severity is the expanded disability status scale (EDSS), with other measures such as the
multiple sclerosis functional composite being increasingly used in research.
The condition begins in 85% of cases as a clinically isolated syndrome (CIS) over a number of
days with 45% having motor or sensory problems, 20% having optic neuritis, and 10% having
symptoms related to brainstem dysfunction, while the remaining 25% have more than one of the
previous difficulties. The course of symptoms occurs in two main patterns initially: either as
episodes of sudden worsening that last a few days to months (called relapses, exacerbations,
bouts, attacks, or flare-ups) followed by improvement (85% of cases) or as a gradual worsening
over time without periods of recovery (10-15% of cases). A combination of these two patterns
may also occur or people may start in a relapsing and remitting course that then becomes
progressive later on. Relapses are usually not predictable, occurring without warning.
Exacerbations rarely occur more frequently than twice per year. Some relapses, however,
are preceded by common triggers and they occur more frequently during spring and summer.
Similarly, viral infections such as the common cold, influenza, or gastroenteritis increase their
risk. Stress may also trigger an attack. Women with MS who become pregnant experience
fewer relapses; however, during the first months after delivery the risk increases. Overall,
pregnancy does not seem to influence long-term disability. Many events have not been found
to affect relapse rates including vaccination, breast feeding, physical trauma, and Uhthoff's phenomenon.
Our support and care
George Springall Homecare provides dedicated and experienced staff to help you maintain your quality of life and support you and your family through the difficult times. We create a specialized care plan that focuses on meeting all your needs. We support you set up realistic goals you wish to achieve and we are there to help when ever you need through out your journey to achieving your goals.
This might include:
helping with personal care and getting you ready for the day or for a good night sleep
catheter care and continence management to maintain your dignity and comfort
prompting or administering your medication to manage your symptoms
assisting with nutrition and hydration to keep you healthy
assisting with routine household chores and shopping so your home life is as you would like it to be
emotional or social support to keep you connected to the people who are important to you
support with rehabilitation to get back to a normal life and independence
Further information and support is available from the MS Society.
Contact us to discuss an MS care and support service for you.