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MS Learn Online presents

When MS is Painful

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Complementary and Alternative Solutions

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Pain as a Secondary Symptom of MS
The optimal goal is to avoid pain by treating the primary MS symptom or complication, including...

Pain may also be a side effect of medication or other MS treatment.

Find the Sources

You CAN...Learn to manage your pain
Ask for an assessment to determine the sources of your pain.


Clinical Bulletin Clinical Bulletin

Print out the document below and share it with your heathcare provider.

Pain in Multiple Sclerosis


Additional Resources

Organizations specializing in pain management and information

Healthy Living with MS


MS and Pain
Pain is a symptom that demands serious attention, as it has such a pervasive impact on role, mood, capacity to work and rest, and interpersonal relationships.
—Heidi Maloni, Pain Management
General Information
 Pain: The Basic Facts
An overview including treatments and strategies for managing MS-related pain

When Is a Prickle a Pain?
From mild annoyance to major assault, MS pain is a pain. Today’s experts have new ideas about management

Medications Used to Treat MS-related Pain
Brand Name (Generic) Type of Pain
(Duloxetine hydrochloride)
depression and neuropathic pain
Dilantin (Phenytoin)
dysesthesias (unpleasant sensation), most commonly trigeminal neuralgia (facial pain)
Elavil (Amitriptyline) paresthesias in the arms and legs (e.g., burning sensations, pins and needles, stabbing pains)
Klonopin; Rivotril
tremor, pain, and spasticity
Neurontin (Gabapentin) dysesthesias and the pain caused by spasticity
Pamelor; Aventyl
paraesthesias in the arms and legs
Tegretol (Carbamazepine) shock-like pain, such as trigeminal neuralgia
Tofranil (Imipramine) neurologic pain
Managing Pain Through Rehabilitation
If pain is caused by musculoskeletal dysfunction, a physical therapist can devise a program which may include strengthening and stretching exercises, practicing proper positioning, and compensatory techniques, such as bracing or use of an assistive device, to prevent awkward or excessive use of joints or muscles.

Staying Active
Self-help may play an important role in pain control, for people who stay active and maintain positive attitudes are often able to reduce the impact of pain on their quality of life. Learn more about healthy living with MS

Research: News and Current Funded Projects
 Researchers Report On Study Of Marijuana-Derived Drug In Treating MS Pain
 “Effect of opiates on autoimmunity associated with MS” (Alvin Beitz, PhD) Exploring pain in MS and its possible relationship to underlying disease activity, in order to develop treatments that may address both this symptom and MS itself.
 "The effectiveness of reflexology in the management of pain in MS" (Andrea Lowe-Strong, PhD) Conducting a clinical trial of a complementary therapy to determine if it can relieve pain in people with MS.
Types of MS-related Pain
Trigeminal Neuralgia Excruciating, sharp, shock-like pain in cheek and forehead, lasting seconds to minute
Tonic Spasms
Brief muscle twitching or sudden, sharp muscle spasm; may also burn or tingle
Paroxysmal Limb Pain Painful burning, aching, or itching of any part of the body. More common in the legs
Headache Migraine, tension, or cluster headache types
Optic Neuritis Ice-pick like eye pain
Dysesthetic Extremity Pain Chronic burning, tingling, tightness, or pins-and-needles feelings; a dull warm aching; worse at night and after exercise, aggravated by temperature and weather
Spasms Muscle cramping, pulling and pain
Musculo-Skeletal Pain Caused by the physical stress of immobility. Physician should first rule out spinal disc disease
Iatrogenic Pain Pain caused by MS treatment, such as steroid-induced osteoporosis, interferon side-effects, injection site reactions
Secondary pain of MS symptoms Pain associated with pressure sores, stiff joints, muscle contractures, urinary retention, urinary tract infection, other infections
Emotional Pain People living with MS may feel disbelief, fear, anger, depression, and guilt.
Learn more about MS and your emotions


Mayo Clinic on Chronic Pain Mayo Clinic on Chronic Pain
by David W. Swanson, MD, Mayo Clinic

Order through Amazon.com
Sick and Tired of Feeling Sick and Tired Sick and Tired of Feeling Sick and Tired: Living with Invisible Chronic Illness, 2nd Edition
by Paul J. Donoghue, Mary Elizabeth Siegel
Order through Amazon.com
Last updated October 27, 2006