Understanding the 4 Types of MS

Understanding the 4 Types of MS

Although there are theories, we have no clear proof as to how multiple sclerosis (MS) begins. Thankfully, there are ways to manage MS and, in some cases, slow progression. If you or a loved one has the disease, it’s helpful to understand the four types of MS. Let’s look at what MS is, as well as what the four stages are.

What Is MS?

Multiple Sclerosis is an autoimmune disease, meaning the body’s own immune system attacks the protective covering (sheath) of nerve fibers in the body, which causes a problem with communication between the body and the brain. Eventually, MS can lead to the deterioration of the nerves, a loss of movement control, and even an inability to walk. However, like many mysterious autoimmune diseases, MS sometimes goes into remission for long periods of time, and many with MS never progress past an earlier stage.

CIS

CIS (clinically isolated syndrome) is not a diagnosis of MS, but it means the patient shows signs of MS. The signs must last at least 24 hours and consist of neurological symptoms caused by inflammation in the central nervous system and also demyelination, which is the loss of protection around the nerves.

Many with CIS never go on to receive a diagnosis of MS. However, when lesions are found on the brain during an MRI scan, the likelihood of another CIS episode and possible MS diagnosis increases greatly.

RRMS

RRMS (relapsing-remitting MS) is the most commonly diagnosed type of MS. It’s characterized by new or increased attacks on the nervous system. Often with RRMS, patients go into remission partially or completely, which means some or all symptoms may disappear. When it returns, remission may happen again, or some symptoms may disappear while other symptoms become permanent.

This stage is considered active (relapses and evidence of new activity on MRI), not active, worsening, or not worsening.

It’s not known why remission happens for some and not others, and there is no way to predict when symptoms might strike again. During remission stages, MS doesn’t necessarily come back worse, and new symptoms (rather than old ones) may appear. Unfortunately, these qualities are part of the disease’s mystery.

SPMS

SPMS (secondary progressive MS) sometimes follows RRMS. SPMS means the disease has progressed further and neurological function is worsening. As with RRMS, this stage is considered active (evidence of MRI activity over a period of time and/or relapses), not active, progressive (accumulating symptoms), or not progressive.

PPMS

PPMS (primary progressive MS) is the worsening of neurological symptoms from the beginning or the onset of symptoms. There is no remission of symptoms. It’s characterized as active, not active, with progression, or without progression. Only 15% of those diagnosed with MS are considered in the PPMS stage.

Treating MS

There are many treatments for MS, the most common being medication, therapy, and self-care. Let’s take a look at each.

Medications

There are several medications that may help in the treatment of all stages of MS. Each medication usually falls under one of the following categories:

Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy is used for the treatment of several autoimmune diseases. Autoimmune diseases attack the body’s tissues. The concept behind immunotherapy is to suppress the immune system, which is trying to attack the body. Therefore, immunotherapy often treats MS.

Steroids and Anti-inflammatories

Steroids and anti-inflammatories are used to treat the inflammation of tissues often caused by MS.

Chemotherapy

Some chemotherapies, such as Mitoxantrone, are helpful in treating some patients with MS. During the attack on the body’s tissues, white blood cells are used by the disease as part of the attack. Chemotherapy kills white blood cells; that’s why it is sometimes used as a therapy.

Therapy

Therapy comes in many forms, and for individuals with MS, those forms are often counseling, hippotherapy, physical therapy, support groups, and acupuncture.

Counseling

Counseling helps those suffering from MS. After all, this disease is a scary diagnosis and a lot to take in. As the disease progresses, having a counselor to discuss fears and anxiety can help.

Support Groups

Similar to counseling, support groups comprised of others with MS help alleviate anxiety and the lonely feeling that comes along with the diagnosis. Support groups are very effective at preventing depression and loneliness.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture is the ancient art of inserting thin needles into the body to target certain points and relieve symptoms or improve habits and feelings. It’s considered an alternative medicine, and some with MS find it helpful.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy uses physical activity to help patients with physical difficulties return to as much normal activity as possible. A physical therapist consults with the patient and the patient’s doctor to come up with a plan that works well for them.

Hippotherapy

Hippotherapy, also called equine therapy, is designed to help those who suffer from neurological movement disorders, such as MS. The first goal of hippotherapy is to improve mental health—with the belief that everything stems from there.

While using horses, mental health improves as the patient grows close with the horse through care and trust. Physically, riding a horse improves balance and strength. This is often very beneficial for MS patients who are losing their ability to walk or control muscle movement.

Self-care

Self-care can consist of many things, but it often includes meditation, massages, enjoying hobbies, eating healthy, and getting exercise. Self-care is important for everyone, and those with MS benefit greatly from it.

The first step in living with MS is understanding the four types of MS; from there, you can create a plan for yourself in an effort to slow progression and live with any symptoms you have. Consult with your doctor and follow their instructions when planning to try MS therapies or medications.

At Chariot Innovations, we believe strongly in the benefits of hippotherapy and what it can do for those with MS. We created the MiraColt so that everyone can experience the natural gait of a horse, which has been shown to help those struggling with movement disorders.

When using the MiraColt as a physical therapy device, the motion patterns of riding a horse are emulated. This engages many systems of the body, including cognitive, neuromotor, and sensory. The outcome is often improved movement and muscle control. Contact us—we can answer all of your questions about how hippotherapy and using the MiraColt can improve your MS symptoms.

Understanding the 4 Types of MS

Ways To Improve Movement With Parkinson’s Disease

Ways To Improve Movement With Parkinson’s Disease

Taking care of our bodies and continuing to move however we can is important for all people, no matter their age or health. For those with Parkinson’s disease, movement becomes even more critical. Parkinson’s disease affects the nerve cells in the brain that control our bodies’ movements. This is why balance issues and tremors are often seen in those with Parkinson’s. Thankfully, for individuals diagnosed with this disease, there are natural ways to improve movement with Parkinson’s disease.

Tai Chi

Tai Chi is a martial art based on the concept of balance and coordination. A regular practice of such balance and coordination can help a person with Parkinson’s as they battle both coordination and balance daily.

Acupuncture

An ancient form of Chinese medicine, acupuncture has been used for centuries to alleviate pain, insomnia, and other issues without the use of medicine. It works by stimulating certain points on the body. Some with Parkinson’s may feel the benefits of acupuncture, such as an improvement in fatigue, which helps in every area.

Hippotherapy

Hippotherapy has been practiced since the 1960s and uses equine movement as therapy. The rhythmic movements of a horse show therapeutic value to patients. Hippotherapy is known to improve movement for many neurological disorders. It’s an excellent option for those with Parkinson’s disease, as it helps with coordination, balance, and muscle control.

Massage

Although there are no studies showing a permanent reduction in tremors after a massage, it may help in causing tremors to subside for a time. Any relief is helpful, and massage can only help our overall health, with its ability to bring relaxation, stress reduction, and rest.

Yoga

Similar to Tai Chi, yoga encourages balance and focus, which is helpful for those experiencing a loss of muscle control as a result of Parkinson’s disease. Yoga involves a constant flow of stretching movements, is easy on the joints, and offers many levels to cater to each person’s needs.

As we look at these areas that may help improve movement with Parkinson’s disease, keep in mind that every individual with Parkinson’s has their own story and battle with the disease. Each body is different and is at a different stage of the disease. The goal is to keep moving and gain as much muscle and movement control as possible. Always consult your doctor before trying anything new.

Although there is no cure for Parkinson’s, there are therapies to help slow the effects of this disease. Chariot Innovations is proud to offer Parkinson’s therapy equipment with our hippotherapy simulator, the MiraColt, so all can experience the benefits of equine movement therapy. Contact us, and our caring staff will answer all of your questions about hippotherapy for Parkinson’s disease and all other movement disorders.