Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease caused by damage to the myelin sheath, the protective covering that surrounds nerve cells, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information. When the nerve covering is damaged, nerve signals slow down or stop. Symptoms include loss of balance, numbness, tremor and muscle spasms.

Multiple sclerosis affects more than 350,000 people in the U.S.

Many patients with multiple sclerosis use complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), including massage therapy, acupuncture and osteopathy.

Of the 111 patients who participated in this survey, 64 (57.7 percent) used such CAM therapies as acupuncture, massage, osteopathic manipulative treatment or psychotherapy.

“Physicians and other health care professionals must be aware of the extensive use of alternative modalities among these patients, and these professionals must provide guidance and monitoring in use of these therapies to improve outcomes,” the investigators noted.

The study was conducted by investigators at the Department of Neurology, Drexel University College of Medicine, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and was published in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.

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