Multiple sclerosis (MS) can cause neuropathic pain, or nerve pain. Various medications and lifestyle changes can help lessen the effects of pain in different parts of the body.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic, often disabling condition that affects the central nervous system (CNS). MS affects communication signals in the brain and spinal cord, which affects thinking, vision, movement, and sensation. Pain is a common symptom of MS. One study found that nearly 63% of survey respondents with MS experienced pain.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved several disease-modifying therapies (DMTs) for treating relapsing forms of MS. These medications can slow the progression of the disease, lower symptom severity, and reduce relapse frequency. People can learn more about the primary treatment guidelines for MS.

People living with MS should always follow their primary treatment programs to manage the condition.

However, additional medications, lifestyle changes, and therapies may help manage daily pains. In this article, we cover what options are available.

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Prescription medications are available to help reduce MS pain.

However, these remedies are not replacements for primary treatments. People should consider using them alongside their current treatment programs.

According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, a doctor may prescribe one of the following to relieve neuropathic pain and itching:

Trying over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen, may be beneficial.

Learn more about MS medications.

Besides lifestyle changes and medication, certain physical treatments may help reduce MS pains and increase a person’s mobility.

Physical therapy

Muscle pain and immobility in the legs can alter how a person walks. These gait changes can affect the muscles in the legs, which can cause hip and back pain.

Performing physical therapy and maintaining general activity levels can strengthen the leg muscles, which may reduce pain.

Some people with MS report burning or aching sensations in their arms. Doctors may refer to these sensations as dysesthesia. Gentle exercise and stretching may reduce these symptoms.


Massage therapy can help improve leg function for people with MS.

Massages help lessen pain by reducing tension on pain receptors and stimulating the release of endorphins, which are chemical signals in the brain that can help reduce pain.

Massages are also relaxing in nature. They may relieve stress and anxiety, significantly impacting a person’s quality of life.

A 2021 review found that massage therapy may reduce fatigue and pain in people with MS. However, researchers concluded that more studies are necessary to assess its efficacy as a complementary treatment fully.

Learn more about other natural treatments for MS.


Acupuncture treatments may also reduce pain. Acupuncture is a technique that people practice in traditional Chinese medicine. Acupuncture may cause the release of endorphins that might help reduce pain.

A 2022 review concluded that scalp acupuncture could be an effective complementary medicine for treating MS. Researchers found that the practice can help reduce pain, fatigue, and gait impairments.

Learn more about acupuncture for MS.

Making certain lifestyle changes can also help reduce pain.


A person’s diet can affect their MS symptoms in many ways. Importantly, eating a balanced, nutritious diet can help a person reach and maintain a moderate weight. This can reduce the rate of MS relapses and slow disease progression.

Eating a balanced, nutritionally rich diet can ensure an adequate intake of vitamins and minerals crucial to overall health. For example, studies suggest that there may be an association between vitamin D deficiency and muscle pain. Vitamin D deficiency is also a risk factor for MS development.

Vitamin D plays an important role in muscle function and maintenance. It also produces anti-inflammatory effects that can reduce muscle pain.

Learn more about the different diets for MS.

MS and stress

High stress levels are common in people with MS and may increase pain and other symptoms. As a result, stress management techniques can have a beneficial effect on quality of life.

Activities and actions that can help people manage stress include:

Erythromelalgia is a painful MS symptom that affects the feet. The feet may feel tight or swollen and have a burning sensation.

Some remedies for hot feet and other forms of MS foot pain include:

  • wearing pressure socks
  • placing a cool or warm compress on the skin
  • swimming, if it is possible
  • soaking the feet in lukewarm or cool water
  • elevating the feet

Pressure on the body due to immobility, spasticity, or stress can contribute to limb pain. Physical therapy can help stretch and strengthen the muscles in the arms and legs, which may, in turn, increase a person’s day-to-day mobility, decrease fatigue, and improve mood.

Light exercise and strength training can also help increase muscle, bone, and joint health. However, starting an exercise regimen may seem daunting initially.

People with MS need to start slowly when increasing activity and load-bearing exercises. Where possible, working with a physical therapist can be beneficial to planning an exercise program.

Numbness, tingling, or pain in the hands is a common symptom of MS. Symptoms that affect the hands result in less functionality and more difficulty in performing everyday tasks.

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society recommends the following exercises to help regain function and strength in them:

Finger flexion and extension

  • Begin with the palm facing down with the fingers relaxed.
  • Make a fist.
  • Straighten the fingers.

Thumb abduction and adduction

  • Begin with the palm facing toward the body so the thumb is pointing toward the ceiling.
  • Bend the thumb to the palm.
  • Straighten the thumb.

Finger abduction and adduction

  • Begin with the palm facing down and the fingers relaxed.
  • Spread the fingers apart.
  • Move the fingers back together.

Wrist lateral flexion

  • Begin with the palm facing down.
  • Keeping the arm still, move the hand from side to side.

Wrist flexion and extension

  • Begin with the palm facing up.
  • Keeping the arm still, bend the wrist so the fingers are pointing toward the ceiling.
  • Return the wrist to its original position with the palm facing up.
  • Bend the wrist in the opposite direction.

Knuckle flexion and extension

  • Hold the arm and hand in a neutral position.
  • Bend the fingers toward the palm, flexing at the knuckle.
  • Straighten the hand back out and repeat.

Healthcare professionals may advise people with MS to limit their physical activity to help reduce symptoms such as fatigue. However, light exercises such as yoga and pilates may help manage symptoms.

Yoga and pilates both incorporate movements that stretch and strengthen the body. They are flexible forms of exercise that people can adapt to suit their needs.

Some research suggests that yoga is an effective tool for managing chronic back pain. Practicing yoga can also improve balance and help people living with MS practice movements for everyday life.

Similarly, a 2018 trial found that practicing pilates can help people with MS improve mobility, walking performance, and functional ability.

Learn more about MS and back pain.

Many people with MS live with pain. However, many medical and natural treatments are available to help manage symptoms.

Stretching, doing light aerobic exercise, and making lifestyle changes can reduce pain and significantly improve MS symptoms. Improving psychological factors, such as stress and depression, can positively affect MS symptoms.

With the help of a medical professional, people with MS can work on developing a system to manage their symptoms and improve their overall quality of life.

People with MS should consider speaking with their doctor if they experience pain in a new area of the body or if their pain worsens.

Read this article in Spanish.