Emilyn

6 things your health team want to know about your MS pain

Pain can be one of the most debilitating symptoms of MS and a complex one to manage.

The first step in managing pain is to accurately describe it and how it affects you. This will help your health team to support you with treatment.

In this article we outline how to describe and track pain in MS.


When tracking pain you should think about these 6 things...

Location

This one is straightforward! Where specifically is the pain happening? Does it move or is it in the same place?

Type

What type of pain is it? Here are some words that you might be able to use to describe it. This will help your health provider understand what might be causing it.

Is the pain...

🪗 Squeezing/crushing

🧊 Cold

🔥 Hot/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

Intensity

How bad is the pain? It’s important to distinguish between a baseline of pain that you feel, and flares of pain. You can rate your pain from 1-5 in Emilyn.

Frequency

If you are experiencing flares or individual instances of pain, how often are they happening and for how long?

Tracking whether it’s for hours, days, weeks will help your health provider understand it.

It’s also important to note the time of day, for example do you wake up with it and it gets better, or does it come on at night?

Triggers

Is there anything that triggers the pain? For example does it get worse after taking a certain medication, or doing a specific thing, like sitting for a long time.

This can be difficult to identify, but regularly tracking your pain and other activities might help you spot a pattern.

What makes it better or worse

This could be things like doing exercise, or taking painkillers. This could also help you identify triggers if you notice a pattern in what makes your pain worse.


Treating pain

There are many different routes to treat pain and often it requires a combination of therapies and approaches. You can read our interview with MS pain specialist Dr. Henrik Heitmann for more about different types of pain and treatments.


Track responsibly!

Whilst it’s important to be in tune with your body and MS symptoms, it’s important to not become overwhelmed. Don’t feel like you need to log your symptoms every day if you don’t want to.

Even tracking once per week will give you a good overview to discuss with your doctor next time you see them.