Multiple sclerosis (MS) patients should be routinely assessed for chronic and, especially, neuropathic pain in order to properly diagnose and treat this condition, which appears to directly affect the degree of a patient’s disability, a new study reports.
The study, “Systematic assessment and characterization of chronic pain in multiple sclerosis patients,” was published in the journal Neurological Sciences.
Pain is one of the most disabling clinical symptoms of MS, associated with suffering, distress, and lower quality of life. Many studies have investigated the prevalence of chronic pain in MS patients but with highly varying results: estimates range from 29 percent up to 92 percent.
This disparity is likely due to methodological differences between the studies, as well as differences in the studied population. The result is the prevalence of pain in MS is still unclear, and underdiagnoses of pain in this patient population likely.
Researchers in Italy conducted a single-center study to determine the prevalence and characteristics of chronic pain, defined as constant pain for more than three months, in a population of MS patients.
Pain was evaluated using validated tools, and the results were analyzed in relation to clinical features such as disease duration and disability.
In total, 374 MS patients with different disease severities were assessed for pain.