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Can Pain Occur with Multiple Sclerosis?

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Multiple Sclerosis  related image Photo: Getty Images

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke estimated than 200 new cases of multiple sclerosis is diagnosed each week in the United States. Multiple sclerosis, or MS, is a demyelinating disorder of the central nervous system — the patient’s immune system attacks the myelin in the brain and spinal cord.

The damage to the myelin affects neural communication. The symptoms that patients experience depend on the location of the demyelination in the central nervous system.

Common symptoms of multiple sclerosis include blurred vision, muscle weakness and cognitive impairment. But can pain occur with multiple sclerosis?

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society cited research that found 55 percent of patients with this disorder have had “clinically significant pain” and 48 percent of patients have had chronic pain. Pain may be a key symptom of the disorder, as it “can be a major cause of reduced function [and] decreased sense of well-being,” according to the Cleveland Clinic.

Patients with multiple sclerosis may have trigeminal neuralgia, a disorder of the fifth cranial nerve. The Cleveland Clinic noted that trigeminal neuralgia is more common among patients with multiple sclerosis compared to the general population.

Patients suffering from trigeminal neuralgia have sharp pain on one side of their face, which can be severe. Lhermitte’s sign can also cause stabbing pain, which runs down the patient’s spine from the back of her head.

Multiple sclerosis may cause dysesthesia, which are burning or aching feelings around the patient’s body. This type of pain with multiple sclerosis may be acute or chronic. Patients may have burning pain in their legs, which may get worse at night.

Aching pain may occur in their back or neck. Spasticity can also cause pain for multiple sclerosis patients. These include muscle spasms and tightness in the joints.

So what can be done to treat the pain with multiple sclerosis? Treatment options include medical interventions such as medications. For example, anticonvulsant medications can help reduce pain caused by trigeminal neuralgia and dysesthesias.

Add a Comment3 Comments

Yes pain is sometimes a big part of ms. In my case the drs tell me I have migraine. Its on my left side of my face and behind the ear and my back is just so painfull.

February 27, 2012 - 10:41pm
EmpowHER Guest

I cannot believe people are still saying there is no pain with MS. It's not true & never has been. just another myth.

The right neurologist will save you a lot of pain & worry. I go to the MS Center of Atlanta - Dr Stuart.

Neurontin for my type of pain & baclofen for spasms usually get paid to a tolerable level.

February 14, 2012 - 11:52am
EmpowHER Guest

In 1987 my neurosurgeon found me walking with right foot drop. At the time he thought it was because of my herniated disks l4l5-l5-S1. Then in the 1990's I became clumsy and after a complete workup at Oregon Health Science Univ. I was disagnosed with intermittent, relapsing MS caused by Epstein Barr virus (I had mono in 1964 and 1978) Blood work definitively confirmed diagnosis. Here I am 64 yrs old and a pain specialist stated "we don't care about your MS pain - get over it". I had been taking vicodin, soma, atarax (none to excess) and now my body is wracked with pain and the doctor refused to help me. He wants only to inject epidurals into my back and spine. I asked him what epidural could possible help the pain in my body and he said "I don't care". None of the doctors in Foley AL care that my quality of life is fast deteriorating and I need help. Is there anything you can do?

February 14, 2012 - 11:15am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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