I have discussed pain in a previous post but want to write about it again as I'm having a bit of it these days and it's keeping me from sleeping.
Some pain that results from MS can be the result of using different muscles to compensate for a weaker side or degenerating posture (causing back pain) because of immobility. This is considered secondary pain. Primary pain is neurologic in nature and is a result of the demyelinating and remyelinating process that is MS. Your central nervous system is telling you that your body hurts, despite no evidence of an injury to the outside of your body.
My pain is neuropathic in nature so it really is all in my head, despite my right side limbs telling me they hurt. But what can you do about it? Besides take your head off? Interestingly enough, there are a few things you can do. My favourite is a nice hot or really warm bath. That in itself may seem contradictory for those of us with MS who are heat sensitive, but it generally works for me in, I believe, two ways. First, the hot water can make me sleepy, which aids in prepping my mind and body for going to sleep, and aid in relaxing. Second, the heat seems to "displace" the pain, at least for a while, and maybe even long enough to get to sleep.
If the pain is still sufficiently there after the bath, a heating pad or those magic bags that you nuke can help do the trick. Luckily I don't have these episodes frequently, but they have been severe enough at times to consider heavy duty meds like anticonvulsants or illegal ones like pot. I usually have a one to two week period at the end of summer where I want to cut off the offending limb.
And of course there are meds specifically designed for neuropathic pain. Sativex, a cannabinoid based spray, is one I'm familiar with (though not personally). I've heard from two people who've used it and there was a 50/50 split on its effectiveness. There are other meds on the market, though I've not talked to anyone who has used any of them.
I have also had some temporary relief with massage and physical activity. I suspect the mechanism of relief is similar to the application of heat; it's a distraction for a short period. And of course sex can be of benefit, too, as it helps release natural endorphins and hormones that give you a feeling of well being.
I'm going to be attending a seminar tomorrow night about neuropathic pain so I might have a better handle on it. I'll let you know.
The hardest part about pain and MS, though, is, is it in my head or is it real?