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Symptom management in patients with multiple sclerosis

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      Summary

      Multiple sclerosis is a complex disease associated with a wide variety of different symptoms that can affect the ability of multiple sclerosis patients to carry out normal activities of daily living. Although a myriad of symptoms can afflict these patients, the most commonly reported include fatigue, mood disorders, changes in cognitive function or memory, sensory changes (numbness, pain, vibrations), motor changes (loss of balance, poor coordination, muscle weakness or stiffness), vision changes (double vision, blurred vision, loss of vision) and bladder or bowel dysfunction. Treatments are available that can help minimise some of these symptoms and relieve patient distress. After the diagnosis has been established and a decision taken regarding initiation of immunomodulatory treatments, the majority of management decisions with which the physician will be confronted will concern symptom management. Whereas some symptoms are relatively easily treated, others are more difficult to manage. Management involves rehabilitation, pharmacological treatments and surgical procedures. Successful symptom management is a key determinant of quality of life for the patient and is the basis for improving physical and psychological function.

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