Family Planning and MS

Family planning is an important aspect for people with MS, as hormonal changes during pregnancy and postpartum can impact the course of the disease.  It is crucial for individuals with MS to discuss their family planning options with their neurologist and obstetrics and gynecology (OB/GYN) to make informed decisions about their reproductive health.

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Bring it on

Having a child with an illness is any parent’s greatest nightmare. MS being an unpredictable and progressive disease can invoke a lot of emotions for the whole family once a diagnosis has been established. Hug your child from time to time and let them know that it is going to be okay. Give them the reassurance that you are by their side no matter what. Be your child’s greatest cheerleader and encourage them to continue with their regular activities to keep them engaged. Practicing physical activities, getting adequate sleep and following healthy diet patterns can have a huge impact on a child’s MS journey.

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MSAA Focuses on MS at All Stages of Life During MS Awareness Month

March is Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month and MSAA is excited to present four full weeks of valuable and inspiring resources, programs, and strategies for all ages! We are dedicated to spreading awareness, education, and support to individuals, families, and care partners in the MS community, and this month is no different. Our MS Awareness Month initiatives focus on “Life with MS: Different Stages of the Journey” and include a multitude of programs that address MS management in all life stages.  

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Ask the Expert– MS Hug

Featuring Barry A. Hendin, MD
MSAA’s Chief Medical Officer

Headshot of doctor Barry Hendin, chief medical officer for MSAA
Barry Hendin, MD

Question: In MS, what would cause a very tight and sometimes painful squeezing around the body, or elsewhere, even in the hands or feet? 

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Hopes and Goals for the New Year

With each new year, many people set goals and intentions for the best possible future.

Thinking about the new year means a lot of different things to people in the multiple sclerosis (MS) community.

To learn more about this, we reached out on the MultipleSclerosis.net Facebook page. We asked, “What is your biggest hope for your multiple sclerosis journey in 2023?”

The question received more than 300 comments. Here are the themes that emerged.

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Your Best Year

By: Doug Ankerman

2022 is over and you are already ankle-deep in 2023.  What will this new year bring?  No one knows for sure.  But I believe you can give yourself an edge for the better with a few small, but subtle changes.  Here are some ways to start…

  • Stretching before bedtime eases a jittery body.
  • Drink drink drink water.
  • MS is relentless.  Be relentless right back.
  • Do what you can to improve what you have.
  • Slip-on shoes are wonderful.
  • Read out loud to strengthen your voice.  (Keep your belly tight)
  • Waggle your fingers.  Wiggle your toes.
  • Forget the music.  MRI-time is nap-time.
  • Take lukewarm showers.
  • Get as much done when your energy is highest.  (Mornings for me)
  • Invite no one to your pity party.
  • Move what you can as much as you can.  Then do it again.
  • Routines may be boring but are essential with MS.
  • Staying hydrated eases constipation & muscle spasms.
  • Clean out the damn rollator basket.
  • Wall-walking is a talent.
  • Focus on what you CAN do.  Not what you CAN’T.
  • Exercise/movement burns energy-but gives back so much more.
  • Big handle silverware is cool.
  • Breathe deeply.  In through the nose.  Out through the mouth.
  • A clear pee is a good pee.
  • Crawling is not just for babies (and is good exercise).
  • Take meds at the same time every day.
  • There is no magic pill, shot or infusion.  You gotta work it too.
  • Leaving yourself a note/list eases your mind.
  • Be inventive.  Use what you have to scratch your back.
  • Put your stuff away in the same place so you can find it.
  • You don’t need a gym.  Just roll around on the floor for a workout.
  • When will this list ever end?
  • Pull-over tops are easy AND fashionable.
  • Move it, use it or lose it.

And finally, MS never stops. Neither should you.

Well, I hope this helps.  Here’s to your best in 2023!

Doug writes silly stuff about MS and other topics on his humor blog at myoddsock.com

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Tracking Symptoms and Treatments with Compassion and Encouragement

By Stacie Prada 

With each new year, I think about what’s ahead, what I can control, and what will make the next 12 months fulfilling for me.  Instead of pushing myself to do more or be better, my approach this year for health management is to track what helps me manage my health with methods that are easy to use and visually informative.  

Knowing what my body needs is an ever-changing puzzle, and tracking provides clues for what could be the cause or remedy for things contributing to health challenges. Add aging and menopause to living with Multiple Sclerosis, and knowing how to best manage my changing body is not easy.  

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Ask the Expert– Visual Problems

Featuring Barry A. Hendin, MD
MSAA’s Chief Medical Officer

Headshot of doctor Barry Hendin, chief medical officer for MSAA
Barry Hendin, MD

Question: What types of treatments and strategies are available to help someone with MS who suddenly develops visual problems? 

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Ask the Expert – Depression

Featuring Barry A. Hendin, MD
MSAA’s Chief Medical Officer

Headshot of doctor Barry Hendin, chief medical officer for MSAA
Barry Hendin, MD

Question: How does psychological therapy, either alone or in conjunction with medication, make a difference for someone with MS who is experiencing depression?

Answer: This question highlights the fact that there is more than one approach to treating psychological problems. Anyone may experience depression, but this symptom is more common in people with MS. Much of this is biologically determined, meaning that depression in MS is often caused by changes in the central nervous system (CNS), but we’re also aware that situational problems may occur in anyone’s life, including those with MS.

Antidepressant medications from a psychiatrist (or other appropriate clinician) can be very helpful for the biological aspects of depression. But for many people, an additional benefit may be derived from psychotherapy or “talk therapy” with a psychologist or counselor. This psychological support can help individuals to develop strategies to navigate complex situational issues. 

Beyond these professional interventions, there are several things that people with MS are able to do independently. For many, exercise can reduce depression. For others, mindfulness, yoga, or meditation may be helpful. And for everyone, focusing on the other aspects of wellness, which include maintaining a healthy diet and healthy social relationships, can’t be emphasized enough!

Please note that anxiety may occur along with depression and is also more common in the MS population. Many of the approaches to treating depression are also useful in reducing anxiety, but as with depression, this symptom should be diagnosed by a professional and treated accordingly.

Barry A. Hendin, MD is a neurologist and Director of the Multiple Sclerosis Center of Arizona. He is also Director of the Multiple Sclerosis Clinic at Banner University Medical Center and Clinical Professor of Neurology at the University of Arizona Medical School.

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When the MRI Stays the Same but Symptoms Get Worse

One of the hardest parts of living with multiple sclerosis (MS) is feeling like doctors do not fully understand or appreciate the extent of your symptoms. This is especially true if they consider only your MRI results. Sadly, this experience is common. Many people living with MS have worsening symptoms even when their MRI results stay the same.

To find out more, we reached out on the MultipleSclerosis.net Facebook page. We asked community members, “Have you ever had an MRI checkup that showed no noticeable changes, however you felt as if your MS was worsening?”

Nearly 400 community members responded! Here is what they shared.

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