Pain and fatigue

Pain and fatigue

Explore the content below to learn more about the pain and fatigue that you may experience when living with multiple sclerosis (MS) and how you can best manage these symptoms. Be sure to have a conversation with your doctor if pain or fatigue are causing you to compromise on your quality of life.

When living with MS, you may experience an overwhelming tiredness, or fatigue. It’s this symptom that many people living with the disease find the most troubling. Fatigue isn’t a normal kind of tiredness you feel at the end of a busy day, instead it’s an extreme tiredness with no obvious cause. You may find your fatigue changes throughout the day or week. It can also affect things you might not expect, for example it can:

  • Make your limbs feel heavy and harder to control, making it difficult to hold objects or to write
  • Contribute to balance problems
  • Contribute to problems with vision
  • Make it hard to concentrate

“I am isolated because of extreme fatigue. Bedridden because of fatigue. I don’t know what to do.” – Amy, living with MS

Fatigue can have a major impact on your life and can be frustrating to explain to those around you. One of the ways to manage fatigue is to improve any sleep problems you may be having. Your doctor or MS nurse may suggest you stop taking certain treatments, try suitable physical exercise or adjust your working hours. Or if you find your fatigue gets worse at certain times or after certain activities, try keeping a diary as this can help when you discuss your MS with your doctor or MS nurse.

Pain is a common symptom of MS and it can be one of the most difficult. You may experience and describe pain in many ways. Some people feel crushing, squeezing, cold, hot, stabbing or burning sensations and some people describe a tightness in their chest (also called the MS hug). Suffering from pain can be an exhausting and emotional experience, which can cause a great deal of distress and fear.

Be sure to Talk to your doctor about any pain you’re experiencing, along with any compromises you’re making because of the pain.

Pain is a common MS symptom that is experienced for a number of reasons. You might find you’re compensating for muscle weakness by overusing other muscles, which can end up causing you pain. You may experience pain associated with nerve damage, called neuropathic pain, this can lead to you feeling pain from things that wouldn’t normally cause you pain.

Depending on your pain and preferences, your doctor or MS nurse may recommend over-the-counter or prescription pain relievers, exercise, massage therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy or relaxation techniques.

Interested in more? Discover more about monitoring physical MS symptoms and the importance of monitoring to ensure your MS management continues to limit the impact of MS on your quality of life.

  1. Fatigue. MS Society UK. Available at: https://www.mssociety.org.uk/what-is-ms/signs-and-symptoms/fatigue. Last accessed: October 2017.
  2. What is fatigue? MS Society UK. Available at: https://www.mssociety.org.uk/what-is-ms/signs-and-symptoms/fatigue/about-fatigue. Last accessed: October 2017.
  3. Fatigue. MS Trust. Available at: https://www.mstrust.org.uk/a-z/fatigue. Last accessed: October 2017.
  4. Treating and managing fatigue. MS Society UK. Available at: https://www.mssociety.org.uk/what-is-ms/signs-and-symptoms/fatigue/treatment-and-management. Last accessed: October 2017.
  5. Pain and sensory symptoms. MS Society UK. Available at: https://www.mssociety.org.uk/ms-resources/pain-and-sensory-symptoms-booklet. Last accessed: October 2017.

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