Living With MS: What to Know About Neuropathic Pain (and How to Manage It)
Pain is a common symptom of multiple sclerosis (MS), especially when the spinal cord is affected. But it’s very different from pain caused by, say, a broken bone or burn. MS pain is neuropathic, meaning the nerves generate it, but without any sort of injury or tissue damage present.
“I describe it as electrical short-circuiting in the nerves that signals to the brain something is wrong in the area those nerves supply,” explains Robert Bermel, MD, a neurologist at the Mellen Center for Multiple Sclerosis at Cleveland Clinic. “It’s like false pain signals being sent because the nerves aren’t functioning correctly.” (By contrast, an injury prompts nociceptors — a nerve ending that senses pain — to send signals to the brain so you feel pain where you’ve been hurt.)
For this reason, typical pain treatment won’t relieve neuropathic pain caused by MS. But if it’s something you’re dealing with, there are effective ways to manage it.
Disclaimer: Content on our site is provided for information purposes only; therefore, this material is not intended to advise. This information includes a link to a site that is maintained by another; MS Monterey is not responsible for content on this site. Please remember to consult with your doctor or health care provider before making any changes to your medication(s) or medical regimen.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a potentially disabling disease of the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system).
In MS, the immune system attacks the protective sheath (myelin) that covers nerve fibers and causes communication problems between your brain and the rest of your body. Eventually, the disease can cause permanent damage or deterioration of the nerves.
Signs and symptoms of MS vary widely and depend on the amount of nerve damage and which nerves are affected. Some people with severe MS may lose the ability to walk independently or at all, while others may experience long periods of remission without any new symptoms.
There’s no cure for multiple sclerosis. However, treatments can help speed recovery from attacks, modify the course of the disease and manage symptoms.