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Multiple sclerosis (MS)

MS's onset is usually between the ages of 20 and 45.  It is a disease which progressively worsens over time, affecting the brain and the spinal cord.  Symptoms can vary from person to person, and depends on the specific area that is affected in the individual.  Physical symptoms may include weakness, tingling, numbness.  There is also commonly fatigue, clumsiness, slurred speech, vision impairment, pain or numbness in the face, and weakness in the muscles.  There may also be the additional features of depression and anxiety, inability to concentrate, and memory loss.

MS can sometimes be found to run in families, but there may also be an environmental element as MS is more commonly found in cooler countries.  It's incidence is also most common in women. 

It is marked by attacks, which can last for weeks or months.  After this there is a period of remission, with further attacks occurring, often triggered by another factor such as stress, illness or injury.  The length of the remission period varies amongst individuals, and in this period of time there can be a great amount of recovery and return to normality.  However in some cases there may be no recovery, but instead a progressive deterioration after the first attack.  One form of MS leads to rapid worsening culminating in gross disability during the first year of disease. 

There are types of drugs which are able to lessen the effects of subsequent relapse, and other drugs which may prolong the period before relapse, however there is no specific treatment for MS. 

It is a disease which welcomes the use of complementary therapies, which can enable the sufferer to live a more normal and easier life, assisting them to carry out their day-to-day tasks.  Intense physiotherapy, rehabilitation and occupational therapy is essential, and reflexology, massage and t'ai chi have also proven to be effective therapies to alleviate symptoms and enable more normal living.  

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