Patient Blogs | Multiple Sclerosis
Alternative Therapies I've Used to Help My Multiple Sclerosis
photo of back of woman holding yoga mat outdoors

Two decades ago, when I was first diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) the only recommendation doctors had for helping me manage my symptoms was to take my medications. But I wanted more, so I started seeking additional options -- what we know today as complementary therapies.

Initially, I started with massage therapy in order to relieve my body, which felt like it was in a knot, especially in my upper back and legs. I continued with massage therapy on a weekly basis as it was the modality that made me comfortable, but it was not sustainable for greater than 2 to 3 days at a time.

Over the years, I have used a number of these treatments. I will name those that are currently available and may be considered for different situations that arise with multiple sclerosis.

The most important therapy I instituted was EXERCISE! Exercise has been amazing in improving my fatigue, enhancing a good night's sleep, and my overall general health benefits. Plus, we should all be aware of exercise’s role in preventing comorbid conditions such as heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, and osteoporosis.

I have also tried acupuncture for the management of the spasticity in my legs and upper back. This modality is not sustainable for long periods of time.

In the past decade, one of the modalities that has been successful in management of many symptoms is meditation. I have incorporated meditation in my life for the past 5 years, and the benefits in stress management, easing anxiety, and creating tranquility in my life have been most beneficial.

Additional therapies to be considered are aqua therapy, yoga, music therapy, and engaging with likeminded people in community.

Cognitive decline can be one of the comorbidities of multiple sclerosis, and activities to maintain good cognition should also be implemented as one ages in order to avoid cognitive decline. This involves good nutrition, exercise, good-quality sleep, executing brain exercises daily, and keeping engaged in a community of friends and family.

When making decisions about alternative therapies and lifestyle changes, one must bear in mind that this is an individual decision; one needs to be aware of when it is reasonable to pursue these approaches for one’s situation. These approaches may be worth pursuing for conditions in which conventional medical therapy is ineffective or only partially effective. Have a plan for using alternative methods and lifestyle changes. It is recommended that certain steps must be taken, such as:

  • Evaluate and address the reason for wanting to use alternative methods.
  • Obtain accurate information about the effectiveness, safety, cost, and effort involved.
  • Discuss it with your doctor and monitor your response and discontinue treatment when appropriate.

It is important to include a doctor and other health care providers in the process with those who have broad knowledge about the diagnosis and treatment of your medical condition. It is also important to be aware of your response both physically and emotionally to the different therapies that you alternatively pursue and discuss it with your health care providers. The goal is to discover which complementary and alternative therapy is helpful and sustainable in promoting comfort and joy in our new lifestyle!

 

To connect with other people living with multiple sclerosis join our MS Facebook Support Group.

 

 

 

Photo Credit: mapodile / E+ via Getty Images

Tell us what you think of this post?
0 Like
0 Sad
0 Cheered up
0 Empowered
0 Care
WebMD Patient Blog © 2022 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

Important: The opinions expressed in WebMD Blogs are solely those of the User, who may or may not have medical or scientific training. These opinions do not represent the opinions of WebMD. Blogs are not reviewed by a WebMD physician or any member of the WebMD editorial staff for accuracy, balance, objectivity, or any other reason except for compliance with our Terms and Conditions. Some of these opinions may contain information about treatments or uses of drug products that have not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. WebMD does not endorse any specific product, service or treatment.

Do not consider WebMD Blogs as medical advice. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your care plan or treatment. WebMD understands that reading individual, real-life experiences can be a helpful resource, but it is never a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a qualified health care provider. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or dial 911 immediately.

Cynthia Guy, MD

Cynthia Guy, MD

Diagnosed since 2000

Cynthia Guy, MD, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2000. She transitioned from her career as an anesthesiologist to become a speaker, researcher, and author, releasing her book, Love Yourself Healthy, in 2014. Guy has been an active advocate for the Multiple Sclerosis Society and Alzheimer's Association and, at 81, is still actively promoting healthy living with her educational site on brain matters. 

Latest Blog Posts From Cynthia Guy, MD

Stress & Multiple Sclerosis

Stress & Multiple Sclerosis

Over the past 2 decades, I have frequently wondered what caused my autoimmunity and created what is known as multiple sclerosis. Perhaps many of the ...

Read more
How to Travel With Multiple Sclerosis

How to Travel With Multiple Sclerosis

When you're first diagnosed with multiple sclerosis most likely traveling by air is not an issue. It tends to become an issue when one starts having mobility issues and require the use ...

Read more