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Managing types of RMS symptoms

Symptoms can be managed with different approaches, and each should be adjusted to your individual needs. Remember: everyone living with RMS experiences it differently, so tracking your symptoms is one of the best ways to help you and your healthcare provider continue the journey of managing RMS. Talk with your doctor about what you can do to manage your RMS symptoms.

Your doctor may suggest types of therapy:

  • Physical therapy — may include an exercise program, training patients to use mobile aids, and walking training.
  • Occupational therapy — energy conservation training, adaptive training, and training in other techniques that simplify daily life.
  • There are also a range of devices that can help mobility, such as wheel chairs, walking sticks, and even bionic legs. 

If optic neuritis and problems with eye movement are particularly severe, your doctor may prescribe a course of steroids that can help inflammation subside.

Wearing a patch or glasses with lenses that realign 2 images can help with double vision, too.

Ask your doctor about treatments for involuntary eye movements.

A speech language therapist can help achieve your goals with exercises that improve movement of the jaw, tongue, or lips.

If you are experiencing bladder issues such as hesitancy during urination, an inability to hold urine, or frequent urination, your doctor may propose lifestyle changes and management techniques including:

  • Diet modifications
  • Change in fluid intake
  • Bladder training

Your doctor may also suggest some changes to help with bowel issues like diarrhea, constipation, and bowel spasticity. These may include:

  • Increasing fiber in your diet
  • Drinking adequate liquids
  • Engaging in physical activity
  • Taking remedies such as stool softeners

If you’re uncomfortable discussing bowel and/or bladder issues with your doctor, take a look at our Doctor Discussion Guide for ideas.

For pain, your doctor may recommend over the counter or prescription pain relievers, exercise, massage therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, or relaxation techniques.

For fatigue, sleep problems might be improved with physical exercise, occupational therapy, stress management or psychotherapy, and more.

If you find your fatigue gets worse at certain times or after certain activities, track your symptoms and discuss them with your doctor.

It’s important to remember that an unsatisfactory sex life does not have to be part of living with RMS and that support is available. Working with your doctor to understand and address the cause of any problems you’re experiencing is an important step to help you find a solution that might help.

REMINDER: Many people with RMS feel uncomfortable when discussing these concerns. If your RMS has been having a negative effect on your everyday life, talk to a doctor. Our discussion guide could help.

Patients experiencing issues with thinking and cognition can take simple steps to keep their mind sharp. These include:

  • Taking more breaks—if you find that you can’t concentrate, take regular, short breaks.
  • Keeping reminders—make to-do lists, use checklists, and set alarms to keep yourself on top of daily tasks.
  • Prioritizing tasks—start with the ones that require the most attention and concentration and leave the easier ones for when you are likely to be more tired.
  • Keeping your mind active—reading, journaling, playing board games, learning a new language, and similar activities can help keep your mind sharp.
  • Making your memory work—engage in memorization exercises. Repeat things that you hear and verify that they are correct to improve both memory and attention.

RMS has been shown to cause depression, generalized anxiety and distress, mood changes, and stress. Here are a few ways to nurture emotional wellbeing, even in the face of RMS:

  • Try meditation or relaxation exercises – managing the stress associated with RMS is essential for staying emotionally healthy.
  • Focus on the positive – put your happiness and personal growth first by focusing on your goals and criteria for success.
  • Monitor your mood – depression is a serious, and treatable, symptom of RMS. As such it needs the same careful assessment and treatment as other RMS symptoms. Keep track of your moods and seek professional help.
  • Build and nurture relationships – forming and maintaining meaningful relationships can provide RMS patients with support, intimacy, and connection.

Is it a symptom or aging?

Symptoms like fatigue, memory loss, brain fog, and bodily changes can be a little bit difficult to interpret because they match the typical signs of aging. You may be asking yourself, “Am I having difficulty remembering where I put my keys because of my RMS? Or am I just getting older?”

It’s important to keep track of how your symptoms change over time and to communicate those changes with your healthcare provider. Understanding your symptoms and monitoring your condition’s progression via MRI will allow you and your doctor to make better treatment decisions.

What I wish I’d known

“When I overcome a hurdle RMS throws at me, I just feel alive. I could write a thousand and one words to describe how I feel, but the truth is that I feel alive and nothing else matters.”

- Telma, living with RMS

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