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Muscle weakness can occur in multiple sclerosis (MS) as a result of slowing or loss of nerve impulse conduction. It may also evolve from disuse, especially if lifestyle changes have made an individual more sedentary. Weakness contributes not only to mobility complications, but also to safety hazards. For instance, foot drop is common in MS and can cause abnormal walking patterns, placing strain on muscles and joints that are not meant for walking. This can result in pain syndromes and create a risk of falling.
There are several treatment options for muscle weakness in MS. One of the most beneficial is an exercise program tailored to an individual's specific needs. A rehabilitation professional will assist in designing a program that is appropriate for the current strength of the affected muscle. Assistive devices are also helpful in addressing mobility issues. Bracing, canes, walkers and wheelchairs improve both safety and fatigue. Newer technology that externally stimulates muscles to contract at the right time during the walking cycle is another option.
Probably the best physical therapy exercises for weakness are done in the water. These hydrotherapy exercises use the benefits of buoyancy. Eliminating the pull of gravity makes it easier to move a weak limb through a fuller range of motion. Also, staying off a weak limb will conserve strength for when it is needed.
This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.