Multiple Sclerosis: Pain Medicines

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Multiple Sclerosis: Pain Medicines

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Pain is a frequent problem for people who have multiple sclerosis (MS). Medicines that may be used to bring relief include:

  • Non-prescription pain relievers. These include acetaminophen (such as Tylenol), ibuprofen (such as Advil), and naproxen (such as Aleve).
  • Baclofen (Lioresal).
  • Carbamazepine (Tegretol).
  • Phenytoin (Dilantin).
  • Gabapentin (Neurontin). This drug may also help relieve muscle stiffness and tightness (spasticity).
  • Diazepam (Valium).
  • Pimozide (Orap), which is effective against facial pain and tics but can produce lethargy and trembling.
  • Amitriptyline, imipramine (Tofranil), or nortriptyline (Norventyl), for burning sensations.
  • Cannabidiol (Sativex)

Antiseizure medicines (such as carbamazepine or phenytoin) are sometimes combined with antispasticity medicines (such as gabapentin) to help relieve pain.

Health Canada has approved the use of cannabidiol (Sativex) for treatment of pain caused by MS. Cannabidiol is made from extracts of the cannabis (marijuana) plant and is taken as a spray into the mouth.

Pain that does not respond to these medicines can sometimes be treated with an injection of long-acting anesthetic or radiation therapy.

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Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Primary Medical Reviewer Adam Husney, MD, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Colin Chalk, MD, CM, FRCPC - Neurology
Last Revised April 15, 2010

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