Fatigue (extreme tiredness, general lethargy, need to sleep) is one of the most common symptoms of MS. The origins of MS-related fatigue are poorly understood, which is why MS Research has been supporting studies aimed at furthering the understanding of what changes in brain function are linked to fatigue. There are drug treatment for fatigue available, but these are often rejected because of the unwanted side effects they have.
More recently emphasis has been on developing behavioural approaches to living with fatigue and several important studies on this approach have been published. One such approach: FACETS (Fatigue: Applying Cognitive behavioural and Energy effectiveness Techniques to life Style) is a group-based self-help programme to enable people to understand their experience of fatigue and to manage it by conservation of energy and applying cognitive behavioural strategies that help to overcome some of the barriers to managing fatigue. Interaction in a group therapy setting with others who experience MS fatigue can help reinforce the value of self-management. MS Research runs a six-week FACETS course free of charge from our offices in Bristol.
A different aspect of fatigue is neuromuscular fatigue. Neuromuscular fatigue occurs when simple movements can be made initially, but over time the muscle-power needed for movement fades. A typical example of this is seen in footdrop (inability to lift the foot clear of the ground while walking). Some people whose walking is affected by footdrop walk well for varying lengths of time, but eventually the strength to lift the foot fades and walking becomes more difficult. This is due to changes in the nerve pathways that control movement rather than in the muscles themselves.
To register interest for a FACETS course please click here.