Go to page content
Heather Hanks
Written by Heather Hanks

Reviewed by Dr Angelica L Dumapit

4 Tips To Help Manage Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis (MS) symptoms can become aggressive quickly, leaving many wondering how to slow the disease progression. In this article, our experts explain how to best control your symptoms to help you make MS more manageable.

Multiple sclerosis min scaled

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease affecting the brain and spinal cord nerves. Although there is no cure yet, there are ways to slow down the disease progression by controlling symptoms and making MS more manageable.

In this article, you’ll find tips designed to boost immunity to help control the disease as well as reduce pain associated with multiple sclerosis by using natural remedies.

What Causes Multiple Sclerosis?

While the exact cause for the development of multiple sclerosis is unknown, scientists feel that our genes and the environment we stay in may have a role to play. Researchers have suggested that certain viral infections that attack the nerves like Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) and even the region you live in may trigger multiple sclerosis. Low levels of vitamin D are also a risk factor for multiple sclerosis.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), elements like wind, fire, dampness, phlegm, blood clots, stagnated chi and organ deficiencies of the qi, blood, yin (bodily fluid and cooling energy) and yang (warming energy) cause multiple sclerosis.

Multiple sclerosis may be of two types: relapsing-remitting or progressive. However, research shows that more than eight out of every 10 people with MS are diagnosed with the relapsing-remitting type.

In the relapsing-remitting type, there are flares in which the symptoms worsen, followed by periods of remissions when the symptoms go away. In progressive disease, there is no remission, and the symptoms continue to progress over the years. 

Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms

Tingling or muscle weakness in the legs may be an early sign of multiple sclerosis.

Multiple sclerosis can cause severe disabilities, though they may be mild in many cases. Symptoms related to the eyes, such as blurriness and pain, are often the first signs of multiple sclerosis. Other common symptoms include: 

  • Changes in the way you walk 
  • Feeling tired 
  • Difficulty in maintaining balance or coordination 
  • Painful spasms in the muscles 
  • Weakness in the muscles 
  • Tingling or numbness, especially in the legs or arms 

Worsening of the disease may cause complications such as difficulty in walking, remembering things, or even loss of control over the bladder and bowel movements. 

Pain, in particular, is seen in up to 63% of patients with multiple sclerosis. It may occur in the form of headaches, nerve pain in the legs or arms, back pain, painful muscle spasms, shock-like sensation in the body on bending the neck (Lhermitte’s phenomenon), and severe stabbing pain on one side of the face (trigeminal neuralgia). 

Is There A Cure?

Currently, there is no cure for multiple sclerosis. However, newer Western medicine therapies, called disease-modifying therapies, can help reduce the relapse, manage symptoms, and slow the progression of the disease. Severe relapses may be treated with steroids. In addition, there is growing acceptance of complementary therapies like TCM to help with the symptoms of the disease.

Pain Management Therapies

As multiple sclerosis is a life-long disease, it is best to try a multidisciplinary approach to manage the pain. 

Anti-Convulsant Medications

Medicines that prevent seizures are very helpful in treating pain. These include medicines containing gabapentin, pre-galbin, and carbamazepine, which are used mostly for trigeminal neuralgia. However, keep in mind that these medicines may make you dizzy and need to be taken only under the guidance of your healthcare practitioner.

Acupuncture For Multiple Sclerosis

Acupuncture is being recognized as having definite benefits in multiple sclerosis by Western medicine practitioners. Clinical surveys have shown improvement in pain, and spasticity, as well as a decrease in numbness or tingling in patients with multiple sclerosis who had tried acupuncture.

Other symptoms that were improved by acupuncture included fatigue, depression, anxiety, and bowel or bladder function. However, this treatment needs to be performed by a licensed TCM practitioner.

On the other hand, acupressure is an easy self-help remedy that anyone can perform in the convenience of their own home. The only thing you may need is a blunt object like a massage stick. If you don’t have one, your fingers might work just as well.

How To Perform Acupressure

Place your fingers or the massage stick at certain acupoints on the body and apply enough pressure to elicit a painful or aching sensation or numbness. At the same time, massage with a circular motion in both clockwise and anti-clockwise directions, 20 times each. Repeat the massage for at least three minutes per acupoint. TCM physician Brandon Yew recommends all the following eight points to relieve the symptoms of multiple sclerosis: 

  • Baihui DU20: On the top of the head, along the midline of the human body. It lies approximately on the midpoint of the line connecting the apexes of the two ears.
  • Taiyang EX-HN5: Located on the temples, about one finger-breadth posterior to the midpoint between the outer end of the eyebrow and the outer canthus.
  • Tiantu RN22: Find this point in the depression just above your sternal bone in front of your neck.
  • Shenmen HT7: This point is on the transverse wrist crease, in line with your little finger.
  • Hegu LI4: You can find this on the back of the hand, between the thumb and index finger bones.
  • Zusanli ST36: This point is located on the shin, four fingers-breadth below the knee joint  
  • Taichong LR3: You can locate this point on your foot, in the depression above the ankle joint.
  • Sanyinjiao SP6: Find this point on the inner part of the leg, four-fingers-breadth above the tip of the inner ankle bone, just behind the shin bone.

Additional Support And Precautions To Take

Remember that acupressure can only help with mild symptoms of MS. It is better to seek the help of a TCM practitioner and medical doctor if you are suffering from moderate to severe symptoms of multiple sclerosis. He or she may suggest a muscle relief oil to massage away pain or a muscle relief plaster.

A TCM practitioner may also suggest herbal medications, moxibustion, cupping, and tuina. All of which are formulated based on a thorough assessment of the patient’s constitution.

Self-medication with herbal remedies should be avoided at all costs, as many herbal medications, if not properly used, may interfere with the treatment of multiple sclerosis. Also, always make your TCM practitioner aware of any Western medicine that you may be taking.

Exercise

People with multiple sclerosis who exercise regularly complain of pain less often. In addition to improving your overall health, aerobic exercises like brisk walking, running, swimming or cycling helps to reduce fatigue.

It also improves your strength and mood and gives you better control over the bladder and bowel functions. Stretching exercises, especially yoga, can reduce stiffness and improve mobility. A physical therapist can guide you on the types of activities based on your condition. 

Meditation And Stress Management

Stress has never made anyone feel good and harms our quality of life more than we realize. Stress harms patients with multiple sclerosis in different ways. Therefore, it is important to find the right way to address your stress.

Meditation, in particular, is very helpful in patients with multiple sclerosis. Patients who practiced meditation over two months found a significant decrease in pain and improved physical health compared to those that didn’t. 

Multiple sclerosis is a difficult diagnosis to live with. However, living a full life once again is possible through bridging the innovative therapies of Western medicine and the health-boosting traditional ones. 

References

  1. National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Complementary and alternative medicines. 
  2. Cleveland Clinic. Pain in multiple sclerosis 
  3. NHS. Multiple Sclerosis  
  4. Cleveland Clinic. Multiple Sclerosis 
  5. National Multiple Sclerosis Society. 2014. Acupuncture and MS: The Basic Facts 

Share this article on

Was This Article Useful to You?

Want more healthy tips?

Get All Things Health in your mailbox today!

Subscribe to our newsletter

Related Articles

Work stress min scaled
General Health

Quick Tips To Help You Loosen Up A Stiff Neck

Sleeping wrong, repetitive motions, and stress can all lead to a stiff neck. Discover how to get rid of it and when you should seek medical help here.

Read More
Doctor treating a foot ulcer min scaled
General Health

How To Heal A Diabetic Foot Ulcer

A diabetic foot ulcer isn't just painful. It can also lead to infection and even amputation if it's not properly cared for. Learn more here.

Read More
Finger joint pain min scaled
General Health

What Causes Joint Pain in Your Fingers?

Most joint pain in your fingers is due to arthritis. Here are some other possible causes and remedies to help reduce the pain and swelling.

Read More
A man touches his shoulder in pain due to muscle fatigue
General Health

Post-COVID Muscle Fatigue: How to Revive Your Body

As the COVID-19 pandemic stretches on, we are seeing more and more side effects, and one of such is muscle fatigue. In this article, you will learn what causes it, along with methods to relieve muscle fatigue and improve muscle strength.

Read More

The contents of the All Things Health website are for informational and educational purposes only.
Our website is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.