Therapies that do not involve drugs are an important aspect of MS treatment. Unlike some of the disease modifying drugs, non-drug therapies are potentially open to people with all kinds of MS.
With non-drug therapies, you work with trained professionals to support and improve your MS symptoms. These therapies may also delay the impact of progressive disease and protect your cognitive and physical reserve.
The therapies listed here all have a solid body of research evidence behind them, and you can be referred for them through the NHS and your GP, although there is likely to be a waiting list. They are scientifically proven to have an effect on MS symptoms, although they may not be appropriate or effective in every case. Not included here are complementary and alternative therapies, although they may also have benefit.
You will normally be assisted to perform therapeutic activities by your therapist, and be given instruction on how to continue these activities after the treatment sessions. Your therapist may suggest helpful class-based exercise like yoga or pilates that complements the work they do with you in treatment sessions.
Making sure you stick to the recommended activity schedule and carry on with the exercises plays a big part in making these therapies effective. Starting this kind of therapy requires a certain amount of commitment to taking control and managing your MS symptoms yourself. You are likely to get only a short course of appointments with your therapist, so it is going to be down to you to continue the process alone.
Occupational therapists (OTs) help people in the workplace or at home with lifestyle changes, adaptations or special equipment. They look at you as a whole person and find ways to make your life easier and more comfortable, and help you stay independent.
Physiotherapists use physical approaches to promote, maintain and restore your physical, psychological and social well-being. This might include training you to hold your body in a comfortable way, building up your strength and flexibility, or offering therapeutic massage or stretching to improve symptoms like pain and spasticity.
Speech and Language therapy
If you are struggling with depression, anxiety or related issues, you may be referred to a psychological therapist of some kind. A counsellor or psychologist might offer talking therapy to help you explore and resolve you feelings about your situation. Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) or Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) are both proven approaches to help people deal with psychological problems, including people with MS.
Other rehabilitation therapists might specialise in helping with bladder and bowel issues, or be particularly experienced in dealing with neurological conditions such as MS or Parkinson's Disease.