MS Is a Pain in the…
Last updated: April 2023
Every day when I wake up I am reminded that I am living with multiple sclerosis. The pain that I feel when I open my eyes is not the best part of waking up. I am in pain regardless of my body parts. There is always something that hurts.
This is not uncommon in people living with multiple sclerosis (PlwMS). However, severe pain that interferes with daily life is experienced by nearly 30% of us. If it were not for medical intervention, I doubt I could try to live my best life every day.1
Muscle pain with MS
Spasticity is one of the hallmarks of MS pain. Muscle stiffness and spasms that are involuntary fall under that description. For most PlwMS, this is most often associated with their legs. It can affect one's gait or make them immobile. I am one of the odd ones who experiences spasticity in my arms. They feel sore and I can feel the hard lump of bunched up muscles along my back and shoulders.
I remember the first time one of my arms locked. I was in the airport and my right arm went stiff. I could not move it and trying to move it resulted in excruciating pain. Now, each arm will lock at odd times. Reaching down sometimes causes me to yelp in surprise and pain. I feel the stiffness first thing in the morning.
Neurologic pain with MS
The gift of MS pain keeps on giving. Along with actual physical muscle pain, I get the goodies that come with neurological pain. Although both types of pain come from the same place, brain lesions and demylenization, they do not necessarily go together. It is hard to describe what this type of pain feels like. The best description I have is one I used with my healthcare professional (HCP). I compared it to the sensation you have when an HCP uses a tool to tickle your funny bone. It runs up and down and feels oddly painful in a "ghosty" way. This pain can come on its own or in conjunction with spasticity.
The medication route
I know a few people with MS who live with their pain and take no medication. I am not one of those individuals. I am not ashamed to admit that I take a few different medicines to help me deal with the pain. Twice a day, I take meds that help with both the muscle cramping and the neurologic pain. I take Tylenol as needed and have a prescription for a separate pain reliever.
There are times I look in wonder at the number of medications I have. I realize that they are all for separate pain types. I realize that I need them all in order to function on a daily basis. Every once in a blue moon, the emotional pain that comes with those realizations causes me to feel sad. Sad that I have to rely on multiple medications for pain. That is until I forget to take a dose.
A rousing start
Lots of us PlwMS have to face pain. It is a daily dose of the reality of life with multiple sclerosis. Whether it is an MS hug or the indescribable feeling of neuralgia, pain comes in many forms. Regardless of how it comes, as a PlwMS, I am grateful that there are options available that make getting out of bed, the start of my day and not always the end. I am pleased to know that others in the same boat have options, too. Severe pain may be a part of multiple sclerosis for a smaller percentage of us and we do the best we can to live a quality life. Pain will not stop us from trying to do just that.
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