Multiple sclerosis is a progressive disease that requires ongoing treatment for symptom management.
If you or a loved one has recently been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, you may be struggling to decide which treatment option is right for you.
Physical therapy is an excellent treatment option to help manage your symptoms, as well as regain strength and flexibility after a relapse.
If you’re here, you might have typed something like “multiple sclerosis physical therapy near me” into Google.
But however you got here, we can help.
Keep reading to learn more about multiple sclerosis and how physical therapy for multiple sclerosis can help.
What Is Multiple Sclerosis?
Multiple sclerosis is a progressive brain and spinal cord disease which primarily affects young adults.
Multiple sclerosis causes communication problems between your brain and the rest of your body and results in nerve damage.
Despite being rarely fatal, multiple sclerosis can cause serious complications, such as difficulty breathing and injuries from falls.
Symptoms Of Multiple Sclerosis
The symptoms of multiple sclerosis can vary greatly from person to person.
However, most people with multiple sclerosis have trouble walking.
As a result, treatment for multiple sclerosis often involves physical therapy gait training.
Vision changes, such as double vision, is a common first symptom.
Other symptoms of multiple sclerosis may include:
- Feeling tired despite getting enough sleep
- Difficulties with balance
- Stiffness, spasms, and/or feelings of heaviness in limbs
- Bladder and bowel problems, such as urgency or leaking
- Sexual dysfunction, such as less sensation or difficulty reaching orgasm
- Difficulties with memory and thinking
- Pain or other unpleasant sensations
- Mental health difficulties, including depression and apathy
- Dizziness or vertigo
- Difficulties with speech and swallowing
For some people, symptoms are aggressive and advance quickly.
For others, symptoms are mild and progress at a much slower pace.
Symptoms can also fluctuate and go into remission.
Hospitalization may be required in instances of severe relapse.
What Causes Multiple Sclerosis?
Multiple sclerosis occurs due to a loss of myelin, which is a protective material that covers your body’s central nervous system.
When myelin is lost, your nerves can’t properly communicate with each other, and your brain struggles to send communications to the rest of your body.
This loss of myelin is a result of your body’s immune system mistaking it as a pathogen and attacking it.
This makes it an autoimmune disease.
How Can Physical Therapy Help With Multiple Sclerosis?
Physical therapy can help you with exercises to strengthen your muscles and improve your walk, balance, and coordination.
Your physical therapist can also help you with stretches that help maintain mobility and prevent muscle spasms.
Physical therapy can also include use of mobility aids, such as a cane, walker, or wheelchair.
Depending on the stage of your multiple sclerosis, physical therapy may take place at home, in an outpatient facility, or at a multiple sclerosis treatment center.
At the earliest stages of multiple sclerosis, physical therapy can help you learn how to cope with your body’s changes, avoid worsening symptoms, develop strength and stamina, and regain your abilities after a relapse.
Chronic pain physical therapy can also help make your condition easier to cope with.
Let’s look at some of the ways that physical therapy can help you during each stage of multiple sclerosis.
1. At Your Initial Diagnosis
At your initial diagnosis, you will meet with a physical therapist for a baseline evaluation.
The purpose of this evaluation is to see what your body is currently capable of to compare your future abilities.
You will also learn what levels of exercise are appropriate for your current condition.
2. In Case Of Progressive Multiple Sclerosis
Instead of relapses, people with progressive multiple sclerosis experience a gradual but constant decline of their strength and abilities.
If you have progressive multiple sclerosis, it is crucial that you start physical therapy as soon as possible to learn how to compensate for the changes your body will experience.
You may also need to learn how to use a mobility aid, such as a wheelchair.
3. In Case Of Advanced Multiple Sclerosis
People with advanced multiple sclerosis experience severely debilitating symptoms.
In most cases, people with this condition are unable to walk or get around without the help of another person or a motorized mobility device.
If you are experiencing advanced multiple sclerosis, you can still benefit from physical therapy to help you learn to sit properly, develop upper body strength, and maintain the ability to use mobility aids.
4. During A Multiple Sclerosis Relapse
A relapse is a period where symptoms are more frequent or severe.
If you are experiencing a multiple sclerosis relapse, you may have greater difficulty with everyday tasks that include working, cooking, walking, and bathing.
In this case, your Washington DC physical therapist will check to see how your relapse is affecting your body by comparing your current abilities to your abilities at your baseline evaluation.
After the relapse has ended, physical therapy can help you regain some of the strength that you lost during your relapse.
Physical Therapy Strategies For Multiple Sclerosis
The strategies you will learn during physical therapy focus on helping you return to your roles at home, work, and in your community.
These strategies will depend on your current abilities, and they will only progress as fast as you are capable.
Some of the types of therapies your physical therapist may use include:
1. Aquatic Therapy
Aquatic therapy is a good way to increase your activity.
The cool temperature of the pool helps prevent your body from getting too overheated during exercise, and the buoyance of the water offers support to those who struggle to walk on solid ground.
Water also helps lessen the impact of the exercise movements on your joints.
2. General Strength Exercises
General strength exercises help you gain strength in your arms and legs.
It can also help with balance, stretching, and relaxation techniques.
General strength training can help improve walking abilities, leg strength, and general balance.
3. Tai Chi Or Yoga
Tai Chi is a low intensity, movement based form of exercise that includes focus on deep breathing.
Since it can be performed standing or sitting down, it is a great choice of exercise if your multiple sclerosis is preventing you from being able to stand.
Yoga uses exercises for strengthening and flexibility in combination with breath work, meditation, or relaxation techniques.
Your physical therapist will modify your exercise to fit your goals and needs.
4. Dry Needling
Dry Needling is a science based physical therapy treatment that inserts needles known as “filiform needles” into your skin to help sooth irritated muscles.
A 2021 study by Perez-Trujillo Et Al found that dry needling therapy for people with multiple sclerosis provided improvements in muscle spasticity, walking capacity, and quality of life.
Unlike wet needling, which includes intravenous injections, dry needling does not use fluids or inject anything into your body.
There are three types of dry needling: trigger point, non trigger point, and in and out techniques.
In trigger point dry needling, your physical therapist inserts the needles directly on the spots you feel the greatest pain or discomfort.
Based on the idea that pain comes from the area around your muscles instead of the muscles themselves, non trigger point dry needling requires your physical therapist to insert the needles in the area surrounding your pain rather than the pain itself.
In dry needling, your physical therapist pushes the needle in and out, never staying in one place.
Book Your Appointment With Capitol Physical Therapy Today
Don’t wait to start treatment for your multiple sclerosis.
At Capitol Physical Therapy, we are committed to providing the highest quality of care to help you manage your multiple sclerosis symptoms.
Book your appointment with Capitol Physical Therapy today.
1331 H St NW #200,
Washington, DC 20005
9560 Pennsylvania Ave. # 202,
Upper Marlboro, MD 20772
Capitol Physical Therapy offers orthopedic and other pain related solutions, with our versitile team of physical therapists in Washington, DC