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The effects of non-pharmaceutical treatments on symptom management in MS

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  • The effects of non-pharmaceutical treatments on symptom management in MS

    The effects of non-pharmaceutical treatments on symptom management in adults with mild or moderate multiple sclerosis: a meta-analysis

    Stephney Whillier, Keira Byrnes


    Objective: Whilst pharmaceutical treatments help to slow the progression of multiple sclerosis (MS), people with this condition are increasingly turning to non-pharmaceutical treatments (NPTs) as a way to manage symptoms. The aim of this study is to conduct a meta-analysis of clinical trials on the effect of NPTs on outcomes for MS.

    Methods: CINAHL, Mantis, Medline, PEDro, Pubmed, and Scopus databases were searched. Final papers meeting inclusion criteria were PEDro scored for quality and included in a meta-analysis. forty papers in the meta-analysis totalled 1673 participants. The interventions were grouped into six subcategories: Physical Activity; Technology; Rehabilitation; Alternative; Resistance Training and Psychological.

    Results: The combined effect of interventions produced a large overall effect size for the outcome fatigue; medium effect sizes for functionality, balance and quality of life; and no effect on pain or spasticity. Physical activity had the greatest effect, improving fatigue, function and balance. Rehabilitation and resistance training had a large effect on functionality. Comparatively, psychological approaches had only a small effect on improving quality of life. Sample sizes of included papers tended to be small with large variability in design. Therefore, results should be interpreted cautiously.

    Conclusions: The current results suggest NPTs could offer options beyond drug treatments. Future research could consider why specific approaches have a targeted effect on certain symptoms. This meta-analysis offers important options for sufferers of this challenging chronic health condition.
    Dave Bexfield