Author(s): Osterberg A, Boivie J, Thuomas KA
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Abstract Pain is more common in multiple sclerosis (MS) than has previously been recognised. In the present study we have investigated the occurrence of central pain (CP) in MS and defined its characteristics. Questionnaires were sent to all 429 patients with definite MS in the patient register at our neurology department. All admitting to pain were interviewed and offered an extended interview and examination. Three hundred and sixty four patients responded (86\%), of whom 57.5\% reported pain during the course of their disease (21\% nociceptive, 2\% peripheral neuropathic and 1\% related to spasticity). One hundred patients (27.5\%) had CP, including 18 patients (4.9\%) with trigeminal neuralgia. The non-trigeminal CP was, in 87\%, located in the lower and in 31\% in the upper extremities. It was mostly bilateral (76\%) and constant, with 88\% experiencing daily pain. Only 2\% had paroxysmal attacks. Aching, burning, pricking were the commonest qualities. The pain was intense with small to moderate spontaneous variation. In 5.5\% of all patients (20\% of the patients with CP), pain was a presenting symptom, alone or in combination with other symptoms. The most common neurological symptoms/signs besides CP were sensory abnormalities (98\%, dominated by abnormal sensibility to painful stimulus and temperature). Trigeminal neuralgia in MS started later in life and after longer disease duration than non-trigeminal pain. Both types of CP existed either chronically or as a feature of relapse. Central pain is thus an important symptom in MS (around 30\%) and causes much suffering.
This article was published in Eur J Pain
and referenced in Journal of Clinical Research & Bioethics