Different pain types in MS can cause difficulty staying active

January 17, 2024
New research has found that widespread pain with nociplastic features, also known as WPNF, can make engaging in physical activity a painful task for some patients with multiple sclerosis.

For patients with MS, a regular exercise routine is important for managing symptoms. Because of different causes of chronic pain, though, physical exercise can be more difficult for some.

According to researchers, WPNF is a chronic and diffuse pain that can be challenging to localize or describe precisely. In a person with MS, this type of pain arises from altered processing signals within the central nervous system. This is opposed to pain that arises from specific tissue damage, classified as nociceptive pain, or pain related to demyelination and axonal damage, classified as neuropathic pain.

University of Michigan researchers surveyed patients with MS to see if those with a higher indication of WPNF were more likely to be insufficiently active or sedentary when compared to their MS counterparts with no chronic pain, nociceptive pain, or neuropathic pain. Each of the participants was self-reporting with their data.

The results of the survey showed that those who experienced WPNF in addition to their MS were not sufficiently active because of the chronic pain they were experiencing.

The study’s authors said there is a growing need to consider what type of pain MS patients are experiencing before giving them an exercise plan. The concept of considering WPNF when creating exercise plans for MS is newer but could help many patients get to an activity level that will help ease symptoms without causing them intense pain. The researchers hope clinicians can begin doing screenings for underlying pain mechanisms in patients with MS, who are struggling to stay active, to help further tailor their physical routines to their personal needs.

The study was published in the Journal of Pain.

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