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Whether recurring or temporary, the pain of MS occurs in the majority of people with multiple sclerosis. Medications can be used to treat some forms of this pain. Physical therapy may also be helpful. Treating chronic pain often requires a team of professionals with different areas of expertise.

MS Pain: An Overview

Up to 65 percent of people with multiple sclerosis (MS) experience either short-term or long-term pain. It does not appear that MS pain occurs more frequently in any single type of the disease (relapsing-remitting, relapsing-progressive, chronic-progressive, or benign).

Types of Pain Seen With MS

People with MS may experience several types of pain. The most common MS pain includes:
  • Leg pain
  • Back pain
  • Painful spasms of the legs.

Treatment Options

Unfortunately, a large majority of people with pain from MS are not able to control their pain with medications or other treatments.
Muscle and back pain can be helped by aspirin or acetaminophen, and physical therapy can help correct faulty posture and strengthen and stretch muscles.
The sharp, stabbing facial pain known as trigeminal neuralgia is commonly treated with carbamazepine or other anticonvulsant drugs or, occasionally, with surgery. Intense tingling and burning sensations are harder to treat.
Some people get relief with antidepressant drugs; others may respond to electrical stimulation of the nerves in the affected area. In some cases, the physician may recommend codeine.
Chronic pain from MS often requires a multi-disciplinary team approach, so be sure to talk with your healthcare provider if you are experiencing MS pain.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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