For MSers with stiff legs, what is best approach, medication or exercise?

In this video Casey interviews Matt Justin who is a MS Nurse. The interview was filmed by Rafael

Video transcript

Casey: So for MSers that suffer with stiff legs, what’s the best approach? Would it be medication or exercise?

Matt Justin, MS Nurse: It depends, sometimes a combination of both. Stiff legs are unfortunately quite common. If anyone has stiff legs or increased tone or spasticity, we would recommend seeing a physiotherapist so they can assess how tight the tone is. They can often recommend stretches or exercises to help loosen off the muscles and that is often encompassing exercise and keeping yourself as fit and active as you can. They can sometimes use fancy things like functional electronic stimulators which can help if you’ve only got a little bit of increased tone in your calf, it can help you walk through better without having something called foot drop. But it very much depends on the level of stiffness. Medication’s useful at helping reduce your overall tone, but again, with medication it always comes, the potential benefit against the potential side effects. So these medications that help increase tone can often cause side effects of drowsiness, for example, which is not very good if you’ve got fatigue, and it can make you feel a wee bit more wobbly as well.

Casey: So the stiff legs often come along with symptoms of numbness and pins and needles, are the two related?

Matt Justin: Yes, they certainly can be. Sometimes they can be separate as well, but they can come along at the same time if you’ve maybe been walking for a while and the stiffness comes along with other symptoms of numbness and pins and needles. Sometimes they are separate so it would be important to speak to either your MS nurse or even your physiotherapist about which it’s affecting, but often it’s actually more due to the fatigability of your symptoms rather than being caused by exactly the same pathway.

Casey: Thank you.

Matt Justin: No problem, well thanks for having me, it’s been lovely to see you again.

Casey: Good.

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