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Pain Common in People with MS

Multiple sclerosis is known to cause pain among patients, but studies are lacking on how much pain patients feel or how pain affects their daily lives.//

In a new study in the most recent issue of Archives of Neurology, Danish researchers report results from a postal survey aimed at gauging pain among those with MS and comparing it to pain suffered by people in the general population. Investigators mailed detailed questionnaires to 711 MS patients living in one Danish county and 769 members of the general public who were matched by age and sex to the MS patients.

Among those responding to the survey, about 80 percent of the MS patients reported experiencing monthly pain, compared to about 75 percent of the control subjects. However, MS patients were more likely to report more severe pain, greater daily use of analgesics, and pain that interfered with daily life most or all of the time. MS patients were also more likely to report pain in more than one location and more frequent pain in areas such as the eyes, face, joints and muscles than those without MS.

The authors believe these findings are important because, while doctors recognize MS patients experience pain, pain has not been considered an important element of MS. They write, “To our knowledge, this is the first population-based study of pain in MS patients including a comparable reference group. We suggest that a careful analysis and classification of pain in MS patients, along with a mechanism-based treatment strategy, may improve the quality of life for MS patients.

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