Nerve Pain with MS

When it comes to nerve pain, I feel almost as frustrated as Cir does, and he's the one going through it. We've been together for over 30 years, and I can honestly say that at least 2/3 of the time I've known him, he's been in some type of pain, whether from back problems or MS related.

My inadequacy in being able to relate - because I've never experienced this kind of pain - is in someways a great divide between us. I can be empathetic, sympathetic, compassionate - you name it. Does it really help?

Sometimes I think it does. Just to know that someone is there, even when you're hurting and willing to stay there and listen when you're trying to explain what it feels like for the 100 millionth time. It helps. If you were going through it alone, I think that would be worse. And I feel for those of you who do.

What is nerve pain?

What is it - this elusive pain that invades your body all the time - or at least 70-99% of the time. Waking or sleeping. Present in almost every area of your body. Affecting any and all body parts. What is it, exactly?

First, before I get into the technical stuff, I just read a blog post about this very subject. The blog - Brain Cheese - makes an attempt at explaining what IT is:

"But nerve pain?  Nerve pain is not so simple.  I have personally used the following to describe my nerve pain: 

"It's a 5 on a normal pain scale magnified to an 8 or 9 over time because it is constant, agitating, consistently annoying, present even when I sleep, causing me to feel out of control of my body which elicits fear, which creates an emotional pain that further intensifies the physical pain that I think isn't going to go away EVER and, so help me God if you compare your current pain to mine again, I may punch you between the eyes just so you can really have a similar pain experience as mine."

I'm just not sure there is a smiley face that best depicts that description of pain..."

Does that about sum it up? I'd say so. I've tried imagining what it would be like - day in and day out - to feel that sort of pain. The chronic, ever present, pain that when it does go away for even a few moments, you sit in awe and wonder how long it will be this time before it comes back. One minute, 10, or even 20 minutes, would be, and sometimes is, a welcome relief.

Because MS is associated with damage to the nerves, ie; demyelination, it only stands to reason that this damage can also cause pain of some sort. Now for a short biology lesson. We have 3 types of nerves in our bodies:

  • autonomic - they control things like your heart rate, blood pressure, temperature regulation, and digestion - things we have no control or only partial control over
  • motor - these control your movements and actions by passing signals from your brain and spine to your muscles
  • sensory - these go in the opposite direction, from your skin and muscles back to your brain and spine, they let you know when something is causing you, pain, heat, cold, and other sensations

Nerves are involved with virtually everything you do. When there is damage to any one of them - this can effect every aspect of your life, for the rest of your life. And depending on which nerves are damaged, there is a long list of possible things that can go wrong. 

From weakness, to burning, tingling, numbness, prickling, needles and pins feeling, or to sum it up - the all encompassing neuropathic pain. What causes this damage? Any number of things, from MS, lupus, myesthinia gravis, diabetes, cancer, trauma, and even vitamin B6 and B12 deficiencies, to name just a few.

As with MS, nerve damage and the pain that goes with it, can progress and worsen as time goes on. Treatment cannot entirely cure the symptoms, but you may be able to reduce them. Multiple sclerosis, with it's damage to the nerves in the CNS (central nervous system), is no exception.

Nerve - graphic image

How do you treat nerve pain?

After determining the cause of your nerve pain, in this case MS, treatment to slow the progression your disease or reduce the symptoms may help. Other ways of treating any pain that you are still having include pain medication, antidepressants, and sometimes anti-seizure drugs. 

You might even want to try alternative treatments like meditation, eft, acupuncture, or hypnosis. A diet rich in foods that build healthy nerve tissue may also prove helpful. You may need to try several things to get even a small amount of relief.

And after all of that, you may have to learn to live with a certain degree of pain for the rest of your life. That's a terribly disheartening thing to hear when you are diagnosed with MS at a young age and you have many years ahead of you. I look at Cir most days and truly wonder how he does it.

As the blogger, Brain Cheese, so aptly put it - nerve pain is not for sissies.

Go from Nerve Pain back to Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms.

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