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Keywords:

  • multiple sclerosis;
  • quality of life;
  • rehabilitation;
  • symptoms management

Abstract

Symptoms management in multiple sclerosis is an integral part of its care. Accurate assessment and addressing the different symptoms provides increased quality of life among patients with multiple sclerosis. Multiple sclerosis symptoms may be identified as primary, secondary, or tertiary symptoms. Primary symptoms, such as weakness, sensory loss, and ataxia, are directly related to demyelination and axonal loss. Secondary symptoms, such as urinary tract infections as a result of urinary retention, are a result of the primary symptoms. Tertiary symptoms, such as reactive depression or social isolation, are a result of the social and psychological consequences of the disease. Common multiple sclerosis symptoms include fatigue and weakness; decreased balance, spasticity and gait problems; depression and cognitive issues; bladder, bowel, and sexual deficits; visual and sensory loss; and neuropathic pain. Less-common symptoms include dysarthria and dysphagia, vertigo, and tremors. Rare symptoms in multiple sclerosis include seizures, hearing loss, and paralysis. Symptom management includes nonpharmacological methods, such as rehabilitation and psychosocial support, and pharmacological methods, ie, medications and surgical procedures. The keys to symptom management are awareness, knowledge, and coordination of care. Symptoms have to be recognized and management needs to be individualized. Multiple sclerosis therapeutics include nonpharmacological strategies that consist of lifestyle modifications, rehabilitation, social support, counseling, and pharmacological agents or surgical procedures. The goal is vigilant management to improve quality of life and promote realistic expectations and hope. Mt Sinai J Med 78:176–191, 2011. © 2011 Mount Sinai School of Medicine