Today, I am concluding the series on pain in MS. Earlier, I talked about the fact that, until recently, pain was not even recognized as part of MS. Then I went into common types of pain, and both conventional and alternative treatments. Now it's time to find a strategy for living with pain in MS.
I always had a very low threshold for pain. When I was a child, a teenager, a young woman, every small thing seemed to hurt me more than it hurt anyone else, or at least I thought so. Then I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. There are many ways that MS causes pain and many people who live with MS pain. There are also many ways to treat that pain. Since my MS diagnosis, I am learning, much to my surprise, that I can live with pain and still find joy in life. I am learning to coexist with the scary pain monster.
There is a reason we have pain -- our body is telling us that something is wrong. With MS, when something "wrong" is musculoskeletal and the injured tissue is repaired, the pain may linger, sometimes for a while, sometimes seemingly forever. With neuropathic
Pain specialist, Sanford Silverman, MD, of Comprehensive Pain Medicine in Pampano Beach, Fla., tells us "people who take an active role in their treatment tend to have better quality of life, reduce their sense of suffering." The American Chronic Pain AssociationNational Pain Association "Tackling your pain with hope and optimism, even in the face of great odds, can make a difference in how you feel pain."
For years the medical community considered pain to be an inconvenient byproduct of illness or accident. That is not necessarily the case anymore. Silverman tells us that pain is "a medical condition unto itself, a concept little recognized." With that in mind, there are times when perhaps we need to go beyond conventional or alternative MS pain treatments and acknowledge the pain itself. Pain management is a growing healthcare discipline.
Pain management clinics and doctors help understand the illness and provide information about chronic pain, treatments, and coping strategies. Sometimes it makes life easier to feel as if someone is on our side. There is no panacea to cure MS and there is no magic silver bullet that takes away the pain. Pain specialists, whether doctors or consultants, analyze the pain or pains in relation to the condition to help keep the pain in perspective, manage treatment, and communicate with other members of the medical team. There are certified specialists in every state, easily located with a directory.
Whether we use pain management specialists or manage on our own, some source of emotional support is vital. That can be family, friends, or even websites such as the network right here on HealthCentral.com. There is no medical procedure that can identify the source or measure the intensity of the pain by any means other than personal descriptions. It is helpful when someone else understands.