How is pain characterized in multiple sclerosis (MS)?

Updated: Oct 08, 2019
  • Author: Christopher Luzzio, MD; Chief Editor: Jasvinder Chawla, MD, MBA  more...
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Answer

As previously mentioned, pain can be a common occurrence in MS, with 30–50% of patients experiencing it at some time in the course of their illness. Pain typically is not associated with a less favorable prognosis, nor does it necessarily impair function; however, since it can have significant impact on quality of life, it needs to be treated appropriately.

Pain in MS can be classified as primary or secondary. Primary pain is related to the demyelinating process itself. This neuropathic pain is often characterized as having a burning, gnawing, or shooting quality. Secondary pain in MS is primarily musculoskeletal in nature and possibly results from poor posture, poor balance, or abnormal use of muscles or joints as a result of spasticity.


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