Multiple sclerosis, also known as MS, is a chronic condition affecting the central nervous system, or CNS.
In healthy individuals the nerves are covered with a protective coating that is known as myelin.
When an individual has the condition known as MS, this protective coating is destroyed, which leaves the nerve fibers completely exposed.
When they are exposed, they don’t work quite as well as they do when they are protected.
When you are suffering from the condition of MS, there are many areas of your body that can be affected, from cognitive functioning to vision to movement.
One of the many symptoms of the condition of MS is chronic back pain.
What Causes Back Pain in MS?
Individuals who suffer from the condition of MS suffer from back pain for a variety of different reasons.
Some of these reasons include spasticity, or muscle stiffness, and immobility/difficulty moving.
When you are using mobility aides and you use them incorrectly, it can cause pressure to be put on your back, which leads to poor posture and even pain.
When you are walking in an unnatural pattern or you are struggling with your balance, you may experience pain in your back.
In addition to these reasons, you may have chronic back pain that is not at all related to your MS, such as a herniated disk, muscle strain, or other reasons.
However, no matter what the reason for your chronic back pain, an individual with MS is not going to be able to compensate for typical back pain like someone who does not have the condition of MS would be able to.
Controlling Chronic Back Pain
No matter whether you are suffering from the condition of MS or not, there are some things you can do to relieve your chronic back pain including medication, exercise, therapy, and even complementary/alternative treatments.
Following is more information regarding each one of these:
Medications to Relieve Chronic Back Pain
Before he or she recommends specific medications to treat your chronic back pain, your physician is going to want to take the time to determine what the root cause of the pain is.
If a muscle strain is the cause of your pain, your physician is likely to recommend an over the counter anti-inflammatory medication such as naproxen or ibuprofen.
On the other hand, if you are dealing with spasticity in your back, chances are that your pain is going to respond much better to a stronger medication such as prescription tizanidine or baclofen.
Spasticity is defined as extreme tightness in the muscles and is extremely common with the condition of multiple sclerosis.
Exercise to Relieve Chronic Back Pain
While medication is often one of the first lines of defense against chronic back pain, in some cases, you may wish to avoid medication in order to avoid dependence or addiction. So, your physician may advise you to turn to exercise.
However, when you’re struggling with chronic back pain in general, exercise is not always the option that seems to be the most appealing. Still, it is often an extremely effective treatment.
Gently stretching and using exercises that increase range of motion or even yoga can help to reduce your pain level and also decrease your feelings of depression.
This is because physical activity can help to increase your endorphin levels and serotonin levels, which regulate your moods.
In addition, making sure that you exercise when you are able to can help you to control the fatigue that is often very common in those individuals suffering from MS.
You should work with your physician and medical team to create a workout program that is easy to maintain.
Physical and/or Occupational Therapy to Relieve Chronic Back Pain
Physical therapy and/or occupational therapy are critical for anyone who is dealing with the condition of MS- not just those that have chronic back pain with their MS.
These rehabilitative therapies help to keep you mobile and flexible while also teaching you ways to save your energy and move your body as efficiently as possible.
The exercises with PT and OT help to relieve back pain through the stretching of tight muscles, while gait training can help teach you easier ways to walk.
Also, OT can help teach you ways that you can adapt your work, lifestyle, and home to meet your needs as they change with the condition of MS and all the related issues.
You will also be taught how you can correctly use the adaptive aids, which can prevent back pain related to poor posture or muscle strains.
Water Therapy to Relive Chronic Back Pain
In addition to the above options to treat your chronic back pain, your physician might recommend that you use water therapy to relieve your chronic back pain.
Water therapy will give your sore muscles an opportunity to get relaxed in a heated pool.
The warm water and the buoyancy provided by the water allow support for your sore, stiff, and weak muscles.
In addition, water aerobics combine the best of both worlds. They offer the warmth and buoyancy as well as the gentle movements that help you to practice your coordination and balance.
Since you’re in water, you are able to be more balanced and coordinated than you would be able to on land.
Finally, water therapy can help you to combat lowered energy levels that are often very common in those individuals with MS.
However, as with any other non-medical therapy, you should speak with your physician before getting started.
Complementary Therapies to Relieve Chronic Back Pain
These days, more and more people are turning to complementary therapies to treat all health conditions.
This could be due to an individual’s preference or the fact that the traditional medical therapies simply aren’t as effective as you would hope.
If either of these is the case with you, speak with your physician about therapies such as massage or acupuncture.
Some studies have revealed that acupuncture or massage therapy could be an extremely effective treatment for chronic back pain. Of course, these can be used together or separately.
If you have the condition of MS, pain- including chronic back pain- is something that you’re going to have to deal with for the rest of your life.
When your pain is unbearable, lean on your friends, family, and even your medical team.
Keep in mind that remaining as active as you possibly can and making sure that you keep a positive attitude can help get you through limitations and challenges that arise.