Types of Pain You Experience with Multiple Sclerosis
Pain is one of the most common symptoms of multiple sclerosis, a disease that affects the myelin sheaths of the nerves. Pain seems like a relatively simple concept, but it’s important to note that there are two specific types of pain that people with MS experience: neurogenic pain and nociceptive pain. We’ll take a look at each type of MS pain in more detail.
Neurogenic pain occurs when the nerves become inflamed or misfire due to the damage to the myelin sheaths that is the hallmark of MS. The nerve signals may jump from the intended pathway and spread through connecting nerves. This is sometimes known as nerve excitability. It can cause the nerves of the brain and spinal cord to become angry. The irritated nerves can result in shooting pains.
MS sufferers may experience burning in their limbs, back pain, headaches, or muscle spasms. The burning sensation is referred to as dysesthetic pain, and it may be accompanied by uncomfortable tingling and or the sensation of tightening.
Lhermitte’s sign is a specific type of neurogenic pain that up to 40% of MS sufferers experience. It causes a shocking sensation to shoot down the body, from the spine and down the legs, when the neck flexes.
Generally speaking, this type of MS pain is less intense than neurogenic pain, but it tends to last longer. Many symptoms that MS sufferers experience has the potential to lead to this type of pain. The lack of mobility can compound nociceptive pain.
This type of pain occurs due to a weakness causing musculoskeletal issues elsewhere. Other pain or muscle spasticity can also lead to nociceptive pain. Rather than pain resulting directly from the damaged nerves, this type of pain springs from the muscles. It can even be caused by medication reactions or other procedures that cause the patient to favor one side of the body. This type of pain is certainly not exclusive to MS sufferers, but the many symptoms of MS make them far more likely than the average person to experience nociceptive pain on a regular basis.
Monitoring MS Pain
MS sufferers can monitor their pain by using the OLD CART method. The acronym stands for Onset, Location, Duration, Character, Aggravating, Relieving, and Treatment.
- Onset- When did the pain start?
- Location- Where on the body does it hurt?
- Duration- How long has it lasted?
- Character- How does it feel?
- Aggravating- What makes it worse?
- Relieving- What makes it better?
- Treatment- Track pain relief methods used.
They may also use the Pain Effects Scale. This pain scale focuses on the pain’s effect on quality of life and function. When using this scale, patients should assess their mood, mobility, sleep, recreation, and enjoyment of life.