I am a 55 year old female, with RRMS. I was diagnosed 5 years ago. I do walk with a cane or a walker when I have to walk a longer distance. I have recently started an exercise program with a physical therapist and it has been life changing, I feel so much stronger! On my days off of physical therapy I walk to keep the momentum going! This past weekend I walked much further than I should have, I tried to push myself and "muscle through" the pain and fatigue that I felt in my right leg, I just kept going. As a result, I have been extremely exhausted all week, my balance is off and I am just not walking or feeling very well at all. My question is what kind of damage have I done to myself and is it possible to increase my walking distance or is it best to try to maintain what I can do now? Thank you so much for your time!!
First of all, you are doing everything correctly and should continue to work with your physical therapist to improved your strength, endurance and balance. You will experience set backs from time to time. When this occurs it is best to try and figure out if there is another reason besides, “overdoing it.” I would not expect excessive activity to create persistently diminished performance for more than a few days. Other potential reasons could include interrupted sleep, a urinary tract infection that is not causing the usual symptoms (e.g. no burning with urination or pelvic discomfort), a new medication, warmer than usual temperatures, an injury or even a minor relapse. If no other cause is found you should generally rest for 2 days (continue stretching but no heavy activity) then restart your rehab activities at 50 %. Depending on how you feel, increase back to your usual level of activity over a week or two. Your physical therapist should be able to help you with this process and should be able to determine if it is time to return to your neurologist to look into other causes.
Revere (Rip) Kinkel MD
Director of the Multiple Sclerosis Program
Professor of Clinical Neurosciences
University of California San Diego