About MS pain

Pain may be associated with stiffness or spasms in muscles, and it may include symptoms affecting the senses that are not always thought of as ‘pain’, like numbness or pins and needles, or a tightness in the chest known as the "MS hug" or "MS girdle".

Pain can be one of the most difficult ’invisible’ symptoms to describe and manage. Only the person experiencing it knows how it feels.

It has an emotional element – it can cause distress, fear, anger and frustration which in turn affect how you deal with it.

Pain can be exhausting, can affect mood and the ability to do everyday activities.

Describing pain

If you can describe pain well, both to health professionals and those around you, there is more chance it can be managed.

Sensations change, so try to describe the level at which they affect you. For example, a tingling in the hand may sometimes be a niggling inconvenience, or it might make holding things difficult or very painful.

When describing it, use whatever words seem best, even if they seem odd. Some words people use to describe pain: 

  • Squeezing or crushing
  • Cold
  • Hot or burning
  • Sharp
  • Dull
  • Like ants under my skin or ‘creepy crawlies’
  • Like a build up of pressure
  • Stabbing
  • Creeping
  • Like an electric shock
  • Aching
  • Pins and needles

Find out more about the causes of pain in MS and how to manage it.

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