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Saturday, January 14, 2017

The Torture That Is MS-Related Chronic Pain (A patient's story)


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The Torture That Is MS-Related Chronic Pain
Profile photo of Devin Garlit

I’ve been writing about my journey with multiple sclerosis for a while now. I’ve discussed a wide range of issues that I’ve dealt with over my many years with the disease. I have, however, held off on devoting an entire article to one of my worst symptoms until now. While I’ve made mention of it before, chronic MS-related pain is a symptom that I encounter every single day. It’s one that is hard to find relief from and it’s one that I know has a profound impact on who I am. For good and for bad, chronic pain can change you.
When I was diagnosed some 17 years ago, I had no idea that pain could even be an issue with MS.  Despite having a grandfather with MS, I found I was naive about a lot of the issues that can come with MS. As far as pain was concerned, I figured that most pain would come from the number of falls I’d take. I also didn’t start out with pain as a symptom, not until about 14 years diagnosed did I really start to suffer from it. And suffer I have; I never expected the kind of intense pain that seemed to suddenly appear out of nowhere. It’s as if someone has a voodoo doll of me somewhere and is really working it over with an assortment of torture devices.
I keep saying “pain” without really explaining it; I feel many of my colleagues have done a great job talking about pain in the past, so I don’t want to simply rehash what’s been said. I’ve also talked before about my issues sleeping with pain (what I like to call Painsomnia). With MS, pain can really encompass a number of things: Trigeminal Neuralgia (a stabbing pain in the face), the MS Hug (a tight, constricting pain in stomach and sometimes chest area), Lhermitte’s sign (an electric shock type sensation up your spine when you tilt your head down), Spasticity, Paresthesia (numbness and tingling), and Dysesthesia (burning, stabbing, or tearing pain). Now that we’ve gotten some official and crazy looking words out of the way, I’ll tell you that my personal experience deals mostly with the last three of those. I’ve already done a full post on spasticity, so I’ll try not to go into too much more about that. In addition to that spasticity, I am plagued by numbness/tingling sensations and brutal burning and stabbing pain.
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