When most people think of multiple sclerosis, they think of a disease that causes symptoms of weakness and motor problems – not pain. However, the vast majority of sufferers report various degrees of multiple sclerosis pain.
The National Multiple Sclerosis Society reports that almost half of all people with MS are troubled by chronic pain. In this article, we'll examine medicines and techniques that people with multiple sclerosis can use to ease their discomfort.
MS pain can affect several areas of the body at a time and get worse or better for no apparent reason. Because MS attacks the body's central nervous system, messages from the brain can become skewed.
With MS, the nerves are too active and send pain signals without reason. There are different types of MS pain. Acute MS pain can come on suddenly and disappear just as quickly. While intense, these attacks are usually brief in duration.
Trigeminal neuralgia or "tic doloureux" is a stabbing pain in the face that can be brought on by facial movements like chewing, yawning, sneezing, or washing your face. People with MS typically confuse it with dental pain.
Most people can get sudden attacks of pain that can be triggered by touch, chewing, or even brushing the teeth. Lhermitte's sign is a brief, stabbing, electric-shock-like sensation that runs from the back of the head down the spine, brought on by bending the neck forward.
Some MS pain can be chronic. Spasticity can lead to muscle cramps, tight and aching joints, and back or musculoskeletal pain. These chronic pain syndromes can often be relieved by anti-inflammatory drugs, massage and physical therapy.
For the most part, however, MS pain can't be effectively treated with aspirin, ibuprofen, or other common over the counter pain reliever medications or treatments. In many cases, the treatment of choice is one of a range of anticonvulsant medications, such as Neurontin and Tegretol.
The side effects of these drugs can also include low blood pressure, possible seizures and dry mouth. They can also cause some weight gain.
Some patients, however, still haven't found the right drug and the right dosage to control their multiple sclerosis pain. Scientists involved in MS research are currently examining the possibility of using Botox as a painkiller. The anti-wrinkle injections have shown promise in helping to control some types of MS pain by temporarily paralyzing a nerve or muscle.
This method has already been used by some MS clinics to manage spasticity and bladder problems. The biggest drawback is that Botox can only be injected into a limited area.
Finding a treatment for multiple sclerosis related pain can involve some trial and error. Patients should remember that they must be active in the process. If patients follow a proper diet, exercise regularly and monitor their symptoms, then doctors can prescribe a treatment regimen that will relieve the multiple sclerosis pain and help them to live a normal life.