How has multiple sclerosis affected your life

What sport and diet have to do with pain


6 minutes

Posted on 10/25/2017 by Onmeda

Pain is an uncomfortable companion in multiple sclerosis. But how you shape your life has a clear impact on the level of pain: for example, through a healthy diet, by getting enough exercise or avoiding cigarettes.

Pain in MS can be reduced by adopting a healthy lifestyle.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) comes in many forms. The slow destruction of the protective nerve sheaths often causes fatigue, physical weakness and impairs mobility, sensation and vision. But not only: Depending on the study, between 30 and 85 percent of MS patients suffer from headache, back pain, nerve pain and painful muscle cramps.

These pains significantly reduce the quality of life, as well as mobility and the ability to work. Researchers at the University of Australia, often Melbourne, have now found that the individual lifestyle is a major factor that can relieve or worsen the pain.

More pain from unhealthy diet, overweight and obesity

The global study included 2,362 patients, all of whom had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. They were 18 years of age and older. The participants answered an online questionnaire in which they provided information about their lifestyle, such as diet, height, body weight (body mass index, BMI), smoking behavior and physical activity. In addition, the researchers wanted to know whether the people with MS had pain, how intense it was and to what extent it impaired their job, household activities and their quality of life. 29 percent of the participants stated that they suffered from moderate or severe pain, which had had a clearly negative effect on their work, everyday life and attitude towards life in the last four weeks.

Analysis of the data revealed that an unhealthy, high-fat diet, overweight and obesity (obesity) were the most important factors in the onset of pain. The subjects with a rather unhealthy lifestyle reported significant pain twice as often as subjects who ate a healthy diet and were of normal weight. The researchers found another link between nicotine consumption and the occurrence of pain. Smokers were twice as likely to experience pain as non-smokers. "The results show a clear connection between modifiable lifestyle factors and pain in MS," the researchers write.

Physical activity also had a positive effect on the pain. Those who did moderate or even intensive sport suffered much less often than MS patients who did little or no exercise. According to the researchers, a "vicious circle" can develop: the consequences of multiple sclerosis and comorbidities such as depression, anxiety and fatigue would prevent many patients from developing and maintaining healthier behaviors. "We need strategies to overcome these hurdles," demand the study authors.

So far it is unclear whether the lifestyle factors examined have a direct influence on how intense pain is experienced or whether they have an indirect effect on MS-related symptoms such as fatigue, anxiety and depression via their extent. The researchers concluded that further studies would have to follow in order to uncover the exact relationships and mechanisms.

But it is by no means wrong to take the first step towards a more active, healthier life today! And to experience the positive effects for yourself ...


Marck C.H. et al .: Pain in People with Multiple Sclerosis: Associations with Modifiable Lifestyle Factors, Fatigue, Depression, Anxiety, and Mental Health Quality of Life. Frontiers in Neurology (2017)

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