Living effectively with MS means using all the resources available to manage your condition well.
Taking an active role in managing your MS rather than being a passive recipient of health care is known as self-management. This doesn’t mean you get less help from health professionals but it does involve taking responsibility for your own health and adopting a dynamic and positive approach. Self-management can help you to manage the things you can control and to deal better with the things you can’t. You are then best placed to face the challenges that living with this condition might bring.
Having a good understanding of your own MS
Being aware of changes and fluctuations in your MS and any trigger factors that might bring these about can help you to plan your activities more effectively around this. For instance, recognising that your fatigue is worse on a hot day or at a particular time of day, or that your symptoms become worse when you are going down with an infection.
Keeping a diary of your MS can be a helpful. Recording how your MS alters in response to different factors such as activity levels, stress, diet or times of day will help you and your health professionals to identify patterns and to manage your MS effectively. There are also apps available to help you monitor symptoms.
Dealing with symptoms and relapses
Understanding the patterns of your MS will help you identify when you may need to ask for help with managing symptoms or if you may be going into a relapse. As well as knowing what you can do to help yourself, self-management involves finding out what sources of help are available and making use of these resources when you need them.
Making informed choices about treatment
Making a decision is ideally done in partnership with your health professional. Deciding on what treatment is right for you needs to consider the benefits you might expect from the treatment and any potential risks. This needs to take account of non medical factors that may affect your lifestyle, such as when and how medication or a course of treatment is taken, the need to attend appointments, any restrictions of ability to drive.
Before making a treatment choice you may want to find more information and ask a number of questions so that you are fully informed about your options, the benefits and potential side effects of the choice and how the effects will be monitored.
MS Decisions - a decision aid for people considering the disease modifying drugs for relapsing MS
Managing the impact of MS on your physical, emotional, social and working lives
MS can affect much more than just your health. The condition can have an impact on family, relationships, how and if you can work, finances, mood and wellbeing. The self-management approach applies equally in these situations as in health issues. It can be help to understand the effects of MS, learn what you can do to help yourself and use the expertise that is available to help you manage situations.
Adopting healthy lifestyles
Many people feel that remaining as healthy as possible puts them in the best position to deal with the challenges that MS brings.
Whilst MS itself is unpredictable a healthy lifestyle can minimise how it impacts on your day to day life.
There are many self-management courses available that aim to teach you skills to boost your confidence and live well with your condition. For information about self-management courses around the country visit the self-management UK website
- Expert Patients Programme - is a free six week course for anyone living with a long-term health condition in England or Wales. The programme aims to provide support and develop self confidence to help you feel more in control. Your doctor or local NHS organisation can help you find suitable courses in your area.
- MS specific self-management courses - your MS specialist nurse or occupational therapist may also run self-management programmes, or courses on managing specific aspects of MS such as fatigue or for people who have just been diagnosed.
This page will be reviewed within three years