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MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS
NEWS

Dr. Boster Offers 3 Ways To Discuss MS Pain With Your Doctors

Posted on January 28, 2022
Medically reviewed by
Evelyn O. Berman, M.D.
Article written by
Torrey Kim

Pain is a common symptom for people with multiple sclerosis (MS), affecting more than 60 percent of individuals with the condition. The two main types of MS pain are neuropathic (nerve) pain and nociceptive (musculoskeletal) pain. Some people experience more than one type of pain and often in multiple anatomical locations.

Some people with MS say they are reluctant to ask their doctor about pain management because they don’t know how to describe the pain or how to approach the topic. But there are solutions that can help people with MS curb pain symptoms, said neurologist Dr. Aaron Boster during a live Q&A event with MyMSTeam on Dec. 16. Dr. Boster — founder of the Boster Center for Multiple Sclerosis and a board-certified neurologist — shared three actionable tips that can help individuals living with MS reduce their pain.

1. Acknowledge the Pain

“Pain is not something that you should put up with,” Dr. Boster said. “So if you're hurting, I don’t want you just to say, ‘Well, that’s too bad. That’s part of MS.’ No. Pain is something that we can treat.”

Treatments include medications and nondrug options, and a health care team may suggest a combination of strategies to address pain. But the important thing is to broach the topic with health care providers. “Sometimes, patients and families have to be self-advocates and say, ‘No, doctor, you don’t understand. I know you can’t see it, but it hurts really badly, and I need some help with it.’”

2. Know That Treatment Goes Beyond Narcotics

Some people don’t want to address pain with their doctors because a stigma exists around so-called “drug seekers,” but it’s important for people with MS to speak up when they’re in pain.

“You may even want to say that you're not looking for narcotics,” Boster said. “Narcotics don’t work to treat most MS pain. ... You can tell your doctor, ‘That's not what I’m asking for. I’m asking to not hurt really badly, and I’m asking for you to help me.’”

3. Seek Referrals When Necessary

If a neurologist can’t address MS pain, it may be time to request a referral to a pain management specialist, Boster said. “You can say, ‘Would you please send me to someone with expertise?’ Because there is an entire medical subspecialty of pain management, and the people that do it are really, really good at it,” he noted.

Learn more about the causes of MS pain and ways to handle it.

All updates must be accompanied by text or a picture.
Evelyn O. Berman, M.D. is a neurology and pediatric specialist and treats disorders of the brain in children. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Learn more about her here.
Torrey Kim is a freelance writer with MyHealthTeam. Learn more about her here.

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