Addressing invisible multiple sclerosis symptoms

Destigmatize multiple sclerosis (MS) symptoms that may not be visible to providers. Underlying effects of MS can affect the progression of the disease and the patient’s quality of life.

Comprehensive Approach to Management of Multiple Sclerosis: Addressing Invisible Symptoms — A Narrative Review” was published recently in the journal Neurology and Therapy. The authors, which included Bryan Davis, Psy.D., Clinical Health Psychologist with Norton Neuroscience Institute, wrote about the importance of destigmatizing multiple sclerosis (MS) symptoms that may not be visible to providers. Underlying effects of MS can affect the progression of the disease and the patient’s quality of life.

Invisible symptoms, the unseen and unheard realities of MS

MS, an autoimmune disease that impacts the central nervous system, has a range of symptoms. Patients with MS often experience symptoms that are not externally visible. These invisible symptoms can include “fatigue, mood disorders, cognitive impairments, pain, bladder/bowel dysfunction, sexual dysfunction and vision changes,” Dr. Davis and the other authors wrote.

Untreated invisible symptoms can negatively impact the progression of MS. These symptoms can affect more visible disabilities that result from MS. Fatigue, an invisible symptom, can exacerbate mental health issues, which are common in patients with MS.

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Treatment of invisible symptoms

Understanding all the symptoms patients are experiencing is critical to management of MS. It may be difficult for patients to divulge hidden symptoms. Invisible symptoms are often associated with a level of shame or discomfort. Patients may not believe they are severe enough to mention.

MS case study: Specialized care allows for early therapy that resolves symptoms in months

Often, invisible symptoms can affect the overall progression of MS. The article encourages and informs providers to ask targeted questions which enable conversations about invisible symptoms. Without a full understanding of the patient experience, it is much harder to manage MS. Specific issues may lead to referral to another provider.

There are significant gaps between the presence of invisible symptoms and their treatment. Starting conversations about hidden effects of MS is beneficial to the holistic treatment of the disease.

Patients with MS often struggle with severe pain and feelings of isolation as a result of their symptoms. Destigmatizing conversations surrounding MS and the various side effects can improve the ability to formulate a treatment plan.


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