Multiple sclerosis (MS) is unpredictable, and its signs and symptoms can vary widely, depending on the amount of nerve damage and the specific nerves affected.
Pain, unfortunately, is among the more common symptoms of MS, with one study estimating that more than 50 percent of all patients experience significant pain at some point, and almost 50 percent have chronic pain. Pain is also a more common disease symptom in women than in men.
MS patients often have trouble identifying and describing the pain they experience, possibly because its sensations can vary enormously. But that difficulty can make pain a difficult symptom to manage. Patients best able to effectively describe the nature of the pain they are experiencing are most likely to find a way to treat or ease it.
Commonly described types of MS-related pain range from uncomfortably cold or hot sensations and pins and needles, to a stabbing sensation similar to an electric shock, or a burning or aching sensation often around the legs or trunk.
Types of MS-related pain
MS related pain can be acute (temporary pain) or chronic (extended duration), and can be further categorized as primary and secondary depending on whether it stems directly from damage to the central nervous system, or results more indirectly from other MS symptoms and stresses.
Therapies for Managing Pain in MS
Two broad categories of treatments exist for MS-related pain: those that are not based on prescription medicines and those that are.
Prescription medicines are not advised as a sole means of managing pain. Although useful, they can have side effects.