Receiving a multiple sclerosis diagnosis can be overwhelming. It will inevitably lead to changes in your life, and there will be some days that are more difficult than others. Yet, you’re not alone in your diagnosis: roughly one million Americans are believed to have MS.
Fortunately, the condition and its symptoms can often be managed successfully. Treatments have come a long way since MS was first discovered, and they continue to evolve through developments such as regenerative medicine.
If you’ve recently received a multiple sclerosis diagnosis, here are some things you can do to begin taking control.
Familiarize Yourself with MS.
Oftentimes, it’s the unknown that can be particularly scary when it comes to a new diagnosis. By arming yourself with facts, you’ll have a better understanding of the characteristics of MS and what to expect. Sources like the National MS Society offer comprehensive guides for newly diagnosed patients to learn about symptoms, treatment options, and other need-to-know information.
Be Ready for Any Symptoms.
One particularly frustrating aspect of MS is that no two people experience the same symptoms in the same ways – which means that, even if you know what the condition can cause, you won’t know when to expect which symptoms, or how severe they may be. The unpredictable nature of the disease means that MS patients have to build some degree of flexibility into their routines. You may experience pain, numbness, fatigue, and vision changes which can come and go, seemingly without any pattern.
With that being said, keeping a journal may help you track your symptoms. It can shed light on whether treatments are working, and if there could be any triggers that you may want to avoid, such as going out during particularly cold weather. Becoming overheated, drinking alcohol, and stress are also common triggers.
Explore Treatment Options.
Promptly beginning treatment for MS could help you delay the disease’s progression. There are a number of medications which can modify the course of the disease, help you manage symptoms, and control relapses.
You may also want to explore lifestyle management techniques, such as physical therapy and stress management. Some patients also use complementary and alternative medicine techniques, such as yoga, dietary modifications, and massage therapy. Additionally, you might explore emerging options for regenerative medicine, including stem cell therapy, which could improve symptoms and potentially even aid in rebuilding myelin sheath tissue.
Partner With The Right Healthcare Professional.
Because MS is a chronic illness, you’ll want to find the right doctor for your needs. The original neurologist who established your diagnosis isn’t the medical professional you have to stick with; in fact, you should find a doctor who specializes in the treatment of MS. Consider looking for someone who is fellowship-trained, is actively involved in clinical trials and ongoing research, makes you feel comfortable and heard, and has an office atmosphere that puts you at ease. The Consortium of MS Centers is a comprehensive online database where you may want to begin your search.
Exploring functional medicine is also another alternative therapy option to help manage symptoms. Home comprehensive test kits help to find diet and vitamin deficiencies and insufficiencies you may have to help correct the causes of certain symptoms experienced. Stemedix offers these home tests provided by Genova Diagnostics.
Don’t Give Up.
A chronic illness diagnosis is major news to process, and it will affect you emotionally. Give yourself time to go through this emotional process and experience feelings like frustration and sadness. Yet, try not to give up hope. Know that MS research is constantly evolving, and that while existing treatments can delay the disease’s progression, as further treatments are approved, results will likely only improve in the future. Contact a Care Coordinator today for a free assessment!