Pain occurs in various types of MS. Pain is a debilitating and exhausting symptom for many patients. It has a direct impact on quality of life. 50% of people with MS suffer pain over the course of the disease; around 20% suffer severe pain. Pain symptoms are twice as common in women and there is a clear link to anxiety and depression.
Pain complaints can include various elements. Neuropathic pain is caused by damage to the nerves and is often described as throbbing, stabbing, burning or gnawing. Shooting electrical sensations are also possible. Nociceptive pain is also a sensory symptom of MS. This pain is caused by tissue damage (e.g. pressure ulcer) with tingling of specific pain receptors. There is also a causal link between the damage and the nociceptive pains. Such complaints are treated by tackling the causal damage.
Pains can evolve into a chronic problem. The approach to treat them is fairly complex, but a thorough neurological analysis with the right pain medication is still an important component of the treatment. Physiotherapy is often effective in reducing back pain and spasticity. Swimming and other forms of water therapy are also useful. Massage, stretching and walking rehabilitation can increase comfort, help wound healing and improve functioning.