It’s Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week on the 24th-30th April, 2018.

Multiple sclerosis is a neurological condition that affects the nerves in the brain and spinal cord. ‘Sclerosis’ means scarring or hardening of tiny patches of tissue. ‘Multiple’ is added because this happens at more than one place in the brain and/or spinal cord. MS is not a terminal condition but it is one that you will live with for the rest of your life. It isn’t infectious or contagious so you can’t pass it on to other people.

MS is the most common condition of the central nervous system affecting young adults. Over 100,000 people in the UK have MS which is about one in every 600. It is nearly three times more common in women than in men. Most people are diagnosed in their 20s and 30s but it can be diagnosed in younger and older people. Although the effects of MS can vary greatly from person to person, the condition is often categorised into one of three broad types.

There is a wide range of possible symptoms but you usually experience only a small number around the time of diagnosis and you may never experience them all. Symptoms vary from person to person and from day to day. This can make your MS rather unpredictable and can take some getting used to.

Some of the most common symptoms around the time of diagnosis are fatigue (a kind of exhaustion which is out of all proportion to the task undertaken), stumbling more than before, unusual feelings in the skin (such as pins and needles or numbness), slowed thinking or problems with eyesight.

Many of these symptoms may be invisible to other people. This may upset you if you’re feeling very unwell but others think you look OK. You may need to explain that your MS is causing difficulties, rather than assuming that others can detect this.

The MS Awareness Week is an important date on the MS Trust Charity calendar as it helps raise awareness of this debilitating condition.

To help raise awareness they have launched Be Bold in Blue campaign and a new project to help young people affected by MS, with posters and cards to help spread the word during MS Awareness Week.

Being Bold in Blue can be as simple as encouraging people to dress up in blue for a donation or getting sponsored to wear blue nail polish for the week (popular with the men!). You could even take on a really bold fundraising challenge like dying your hair blue and then shaving it all off!

  • Organise a cake sale at work and ask everyone to donate £1 to dress in blue for the day
  • Hold a Be Bold in Blue quiz night at a pub or a collection day in your local shopping centre
  • Fundraise at school by organising a sponsored silence or fun run

However you decide to Be Bold in Blue, you can be sure that the money you raise will make a real difference. Since 2011, together they have raised over £105,000 to support people with MS by providing information they can trust and training the MS health professionals they need.  Head to the website to get your Be Bold in Blue fundraising kit. 

It’s not too late to organise an event or to just Be Bold in Blue from the 24th-30th April. To celebrate MS Awareness Week they are also launching a brand new YouTube channel called MSTV for young people aged 11 to 17, who are affected by MS. The channel will feature videos to help you understand MS, you can subscribe to it on the MS Trust website. 



Always sit up straight to prevent back pain.

Slouching is bad but sitting too straight and too still for too long can be a strain on your back. Move around often and walk around.

Lifting heavy objects hurts your back.

It’s the way you lift it that can cause back pain. Always bend your knees with legs slightly apart.

Stay in bed until your back pain goes away.

Resting can help an acute injury or strain but a day or two in bed can make your back pain worse.

Back pain is always caused by an injury.

Disc degeneration, injuries, diseases, infections and even inherited conditions can cause back pain.

Skinny people don’t get back pain.

Anyone can get back pain.

Exercise is bad for your back.

Regular exercise prevents back pain.

A super firm mattress is best for your back.

A medium to firm mattress rated as 5.6 gave less pain than firmer ones rated 2.3.



Failed back surgery syndrome (also called FBSS, or failed back syndrome) can occur in 10-40% of people who undergo spinal surgery.

Although it is not actually a syndrome, as such, as it is just a term for a number of factors to describe the pain some patients have even after having surgery.

There is actually nothing else like this term ‘failed’, as in ‘failed knee surgery syndrome’. Failed back surgery syndrome is completely on its own.

Some factors which can cause failed back surgery are scar tissue which can form around the incision site, or an infection can occur (which did in my case) or that simply the actual technicalities of the operation were not successful.

Surgical operations are usually performed for spinal decompression and spinal fusion using cages, bone graft, bars and screws (which I have) and if a patient continues to have pain after the procedure, then the condition is then called ‘failed back surgery syndrome‘.

In my case my first spinal surgery was a fusion done some 30 years ago which simply wore out and so had to be repeated. The second surgery included a cage, bone graft, bars and screws but this surgery ended with a bad infection. This has since be classed as a FBSS.

The only options they can offer me now is conservative treatments like the injections I have and pain medication. Having further spinal surgery in my case is not an option any more even though there are a lot more successful keyhole procedures available now. In fact with today’s knowledge and technology people can recover from spinal surgery in a matter of weeks which when I had mine was months or longer.

As a result of the FBSS and other issues I was then also diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and sometimes I find it hard to decipher if my symptoms are FBSS related or Fibromyalgia related, as they can be so similar.

Although when I was first diagnosed with Fibromyalgia it was not as well known as it is now, I still feel that there is an awful lot of help and knowledge available for Fibromyalgia but not for FBSS. 




If you sit for a prolonged length of time it puts more pressure on your discs, which in turn puts your back and spine at risk from damage and can cause a flare up of your pain.

Office workers, who spend a lot of their time at a desk or computer for hours on end and without breaks are one of the most vulnerable to experience back pain as well as RSI in their hands and fingers.

The same goes to anyone who may be bed-bound or unable to move around due to an illness or condition. Blood clots can form in your legs so always make sure you wear the stockings given to you or try to move your feet around in a circle regularly as you lie on the bed.

Your back becomes vulnerable to stress due to your back and stomach muscles not being exercised regularly or not being moved which has a knock on effect to other joints in your body. You can end up with stiff joints, ligaments and muscles problems.

They say that it’s not just the inactive that are vulnerable, even if you are fit, without regular breaks and movement of your spine, just about anyone can end up in pain.

Unfortunately for women experts have found that high heels can also cause unnatural stress on the spinal muscles and ligaments so if you can wear lower heels or even flats during the day it will help keep your back straighter.




CFS and chronic fatigue in Fibromyalgia can be quite debilitating and something I really struggle with so I am always looking out for ideas on how to help with the fatigue. Hopefully one of these tips will help someone else suffering from either of these diseases.

  1. Limit your dairy intake and use low fat milk, cheese or yoghurt
  2.  If it’s during the day and you are desperate to get a job done then go for the chocolate or cheese option but don’t make a habit of it.
  3. Tea or coffee but again only during the day and NEVER taken after 6pm or your evening sleep will be interrupted. Some good teas to drink are Chamomile and dandelion chai and of course green tea.Tea contains 2 things that appear to offer health benefits: polyphenols and theanine which they say has a lot more to offer for people suffering from Fibromyalgia and CFS.
  4. Eat your greens.
  5. Eat Protein – Getting enough protein in your diet is especially important, because your body needs it for growth and maintenance. Protein is directly responsible for about 20% of the material in your cells and tissues. Animal-based proteins (such as milk, meat, fish, poultry and eggs) will give you the amino acids your body needs to build protein.
  6. Avoiding aspartame can dramatically reduce pain and improve cognitive function in many.
  7. Add dark-coloured fruits, including berries, which are also recommended.
  8. Herbs that may help with symptoms of chronic fatigue include:
  9. Ginseng (Panax ginseng) may help improve energy (100 – 300 mg 2 times per day). One test tube study found that ginseng and echinacea increased the immune response in cells taken from people with CFS. But no studies have been done where people took ginseng for CFS. Ginseng can increase the risk of bleeding, especially if you already take blood-thinners such as clopidogrel (Plavix), warfarin (Coumadin), or aspirin. Ginseng also may interact with several drugs, including those taken for diabetes or to suppress the immune system. People with heart disease, schizophrenia, diabetes, or those with hormone-sensitive cancers — including breast, uterine, ovarian, or prostate cancer — should not take ginseng.
  10. Echinacea (Echinacea species) may help boost the immune system (200 mg 2 times per day). No studies, however, have looked at echinacea as a treatment for CFS in people. People with autoimmune disease, such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, should not take echinacea.
  11. Take flaxseed oil as all those omega 3’s and 6’s are a great way to get the blood flowing and the creaky joints moving.