Multiple System Atrophy is a rare neurologial disorder that impairs the body’s involuntary functions including blood pressure, heart rate, digestion and bladder function. Typically affecting patients beginning in their 50’s or 60’s, it is degenerative in nature and affects more men than women. While many times attributed to heredity, multiple system atrophy has occured in patients with no family history.
According to the Mayo Clinic, there are two types of Multiple System Atrophy: parkinsonian and cerebellar. The predominant signs and symptoms of Parkinsonian MSA mimic those of Parkinson’s disease, such as:
- Rigid muscles and difficulty bending your arms and legs
- Slow movement (bradykinesia)
- Tremors (rare in MSA compared with classic Parkinson’s disease)
- Impaired posture and balance
The predominant signs and symptoms of cerbellar MSA are lack of muscle coordination and may include:
- Impairment of movement and coordination, such as unsteady gait and loss of balance
- Slurred, slow or low-volume speech (dysarthria)
- Visual disturbances, such as blurred vision and difficulty focusing your eyes
- Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia) or chewing
In addition, there are some general signs of MSA including postural (orthostatic) hypotension, a form of low blood pressure that makes you feel dizzy or lightheaded, or even faint, when you stand up from sitting or lying down, and difficulties with involuntary body functions such as:
- Loss of bladder or bowel control (incontinence)
- A reduction in the production of perspiration, tears and saliva
- Impaired control of body temperature, often causing cold hands or feet as well as heat intolerance due to impaired sweating
- Irregular heartbeat
- Difficulty controlling emotions
- Agitated sleep due to “acting out” one’s dreams
- Abnormal breathing at night
While there is no known cause for MSA, researchers are studying whether there is an inherited component or possible environmental toxin involved in the onset of the disease. What is known is that MSA is associated with shrikage in the parts of the brain that regulate body function, motor control and digestions.
Typical treatments for MSA in the past have been largely based in drug and physical therapies. Chiropractic neurology is one avenue to consider as a safe, effective and drug-free care plan for patients with MSA. Chiropractic neuorolgy focuses on improving brain health, and along with it the nervous system, bringing the body back into balance and improving the overall health of the patient, a huge advantage for patients with MSA. Chiropractic neurology seeks out the sources of a patient’s problem and uses specialized treatments, specific to each patient, to improve brain and nervous system health, all without the use of drugs or surgery.