Fatigue is perhaps the most prevalent and disabling symptom experienced by persons affected by MS. An overpowering feeling of fatigue can severely affect daily functioning and, particularly when compounded by other symptoms of MS, impairs performance at work or school and affects one’s interactions with friends and family. While the cause of fatigue in MS is still unknown, one hypothesis that is gaining ground among scientists and clinicians alike is that underlying sleep disorders may play a larger role than previously thought. Promising data out there suggests that identifying and treating sleep disorders can go a long way towards alleviating fatigue and improving quality of life in people with MS. This is good news, since fatigue is generally resistant to the frontline treatments that are the mainstay of MS symptom management. In this post, I’ll talk about some of the most common sleep disorders identified in people living with MS, discuss the evidence linking sleep disorders with fatigue, and identify potential strategies that people with MS can pursue to manage fatigue.
It seems like yesterday when I met with the Centre for Drug Research Development (CDRD) to discuss a potential partnership that would bolster efforts in translational research for MS. Today, that partnership has taken an important step as the first project focused on progressive MS is funded.
This work, funded by the MS Society and led by Canadian researcher Dr. Craig Moore from Memorial University in Newfoundland, was selected from over thirty applications that were submitted to a request for proposals launched earlier this year.
Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is becoming increasingly recognized as an important component of disease management, and growing evidence has been able to demonstrate the benefits of non-conventional treatment approaches for MS.
A treatment is considered to be complementary when it is used alongside traditional therapies, and is alternative if it is the only health approach being used. The American Academy of Neurology recently released evidence-based guidelines for the use of CAMs in MS. The guidelines were created based on data from high quality research studies. According to researchers who conducted the review, 33-80% of the people living with MS use CAMs, and females who report higher education levels and poorer health make up the highest proportion of this group.
Certain CAMs, including yoga, music therapy, acupuncture, chiropractic medicine, and massage therapy remain to be fully supported by strong scientific evidence, which makes it challenging for researchers and medical practitioners to affirm their ability to treat MS. The good news is that, with better technology and larger, well-designed clinical trials, we have a better idea of those CAMs which are helpful, or harmful, for people living with MS.
In this post I summarize some of the key findings from studies looking at various CAMs, and if you would like to see the full list of CAMs that were investigated in the recent AAN review, I invite you read through the full article.