MS Myths you may encounter or have encountered:
1. Multiple sclerosis is fatal- with the exception of the Marsburg variant (EXTREMELY RARE), this is a myth. You can enjoy a long life with MS.
2. There is no treatment for multiple sclerosis- this is also a myth. While there is no cure, there are treatments available for those who wish to use meds.
3. Multiple sclerosis means being confined to a wheelchair- some people may eventually be confined to a wheelchair, but this is a myth. I went from walking, to a power chair to being bed ridden and I am back to walking, albeit with a cane and my service dog.
4. People with multiple sclerosis can't work or have children- I worked for 20 years after my diagnosis and others have worked longer. Many women have had children following their diagnosis and I had two sons following my diagnosis. Family and work are not limited by MS, HOWEVER, if your MS begins to impair your work or can lead to a safety issue, I would encourage you to seek assistance or think about disability. I had to take disability in 2002, but life still goes on and it is still a blessing.
5. Multiple sclerosis isn't a physically painful condition- while some MSers will only experience numbness, others certainly feel physical pain. I experience both numbness and pain daily. I have pain that is 10/10 as can be debilitating.
6. Multiple sclerosis only affects Caucasians- the ethnic borders were breeched long ago. I have many MSer friends in Japan and even in Thailand MS cases have been increasing. While some ethnic groups are limited in MS cases, MS is no respecter of wealth, ethnicity, or gender.
7. Multiple sclerosis is caused by heavy-metal poisoning, aspartame, poor diet or negative thinking- There are a myriad number of theories for MS, but the truth is that no cause has ever been identified. IF a cause is known, then a specific test can be developed and a cure will follow. Heavy metal poisoning can cause MS like symptoms, but there are specific tests available. Dental fillings do not meet this criteria and the dental filling theory belongs in the dustbin of history. Aspartame has been maligned, but there is no evidence and MS existed long before aspartame was even a concept. Poor diet is not a cause, but eating healthy is recommended for everyone- even MSers! Negative thinking? Still no evidence. Negative thinking adds to stress which can worsen MS Symptoms, but these do not cause MS.
8. Multiple sclerosis can be cured through dietary changes or optimism- Again, another myth because there is no cure. As an optimistic person, however, I would encourage all MSers to be of good faith and stay strong. Dwelling on the negative can worsen your symptoms.
9. Natural treatments are "safer" and more effective than prescription medication- this is another myth. I personally do not do meds and because I am progressive, there are no meds for me. When an MSer finds something which works for them, SHARE IT! What I use for my chronic pain and what I avoid (triggers) are what I have found works for me. Each of us is uniquely created and not everything is the same. Share your experiences because you never know how many lives you can touch.
10. Multiple sclerosis is easy to diagnose- I dare say that this is a myth which, with medical progress, may someday be a FACT! For some the diagnosis comes quickly and for others it is a few years of limbo land filled with emotional turmoil and a short supply of understanding and patience. I would encourage “Newbies” to seek the assistance of an MS Specialist and print a copy of the Revised McDonald Criteria. The diagnosis of MS comes after several tests. There is no one specific test for MS. If a doctor diagnoses you based on a single test, find another doctor. There are over 400 diseases/disorders which can cause MS like symptoms. If you present with symptoms, there is a 1:400 chance for MS.
Please feel free to add other myths or your own MS experiences.