Multiple sclerosis is a progressive and chronic medical condition that affects the central nervous system, especially the spinal cord, the optic nerve, and the brain. The symptoms of the disease can be mild and intermittent, to being severe and cause permanent damage. There is no cure for multiple sclerosis, but there are many treatments and medications available that help you manage the symptoms and improve the overall quality of life. Pain, unfortunately, is one of the most troublesome symptoms of multiple sclerosis. Multiple sclerosis is notorious for causing nerve pain in the feet and legs. While dealing with pain can often cause disruptions in your daily life, there are certain treatments available that can help you get some relief from this type of nerve pain in multiple sclerosis. Here are some natural remedies for multiple sclerosis nerve pain in the feet and legs.
Why Does Multiple Sclerosis Cause Nerve Pain in the Feet and Legs?
Multiple sclerosis causes your immune system to attack the myelin sheath, which is the natural protective covering of the nerve cells.(1,2) Over time, this covering gets damaged to such an extent that it ends up damaging the nerve as well, thus disrupting the communication between the brain and the rest of the body.(3,4,5)
Nerve pain that many people with multiple sclerosis experience can either be caused directly by the condition or by other related conditions such as arthritis and fibromyalgia.(6,7) When this pain is caused directly because of multiple sclerosis, the mechanism of pain is through nerve damage.(8) As mentioned above, in multiple sclerosis, the immune system attacks the myelin sheath and can lead to the development of plaques and lesions in the nervous system. This causes pain throughout the body, especially in the legs and feet.(9)
Multiple sclerosis also makes it difficult to move, and even the process of walking may become difficult. This is because as the nerve damage progresses, people with multiple sclerosis begin to experience aches and pains, along with muscle stiffness.
Pain due to multiple sclerosis can range from being dull and sporadic, to severe, stabbing, and persistent. In severe cases of multiple sclerosis, even small triggers like uncomfortable or tight clothing, or a cool breeze can cause pain in people.(10)
5 Natural Remedies for Multiple Sclerosis Nerve Pain in the Feet and Legs
Managing nerve pain from multiple sclerosis involves a combination of various approaches, such as home remedies and prescribed medications. Some of the following natural treatments may help relieve nerve pain due to multiple sclerosis.
Regular and gentle massage can help alleviate nerve pain caused by multiple sclerosis. This is because a massage stimulates blood flow throughout the body and also relieves pain and tension in the muscle. At the same time, it promotes a feeling of relaxation and a sense of well-being.(11) This muscle relaxation is hugely beneficial and important for people with multiple sclerosis. They often find it difficult to relax their tired and aching muscles, especially if they have been on their feet all day long.
2. Warm Bath or Warm Compress
Many multiple sclerosis experts advice using a warm compress or taking a warm bath to alleviate the pain. However, it is essential to understand that there is a difference between warm and hot. Too much heat can actually aggravate your symptoms, and a hot compress or hot bath can increase the severity of your pain. This is why you should maintain the temperature of your bath or compress.(12)
3. Nutritional Supplements
Nerve pain caused by multiple sclerosis can also be aggravated by nutritional deficiencies. If you lack certain vitamins or minerals, your doctor can help by prescribing you a dietary supplements. The deficiencies of the following vitamins and minerals have been found to exacerbate the nerve pain in multiple sclerosis:(13)
However, you should never start taking a supplement without consulting your doctor. There are some supplements that may interact with your multiple sclerosis medication. You can also ask your doctor to prescribe a supplement that can help relieve the soreness and stiffness.
4. Dietary Changes
Pain and a general feeling of being unwell even with multiple sclerosis can often be related to an unhealthy diet. People with this condition should examine their diet and eliminate some of the known culprits that may be aggravating the nerve pain from multiple sclerosis. Some of these food items include:
The US Department of Veterans Affairs says that depression, stress, and anxiety can also make people with multiple sclerosis feel more pain.(14) This is why managing these stressors and any psychological conditions can help decrease the pain. Getting the required therapy for mental health conditions, especially if you have multiple sclerosis, can help you manage these stressors in a better way to achieve a better quality of life as well.
It is indeed challenging to live with a condition like multiple sclerosis. The pain not only affects your daily life, but it can take a toll on your mental health as well. However, with the proper treatment, the symptoms of this condition can be managed. The pain can become manageable with such types of natural remedies. However, if you find you are not experiencing any relief in the nerve pain, then consult your doctor and discuss a better approach to manage your symptoms.
- Trapp, B.D., Peterson, J., Ransohoff, R.M., Rudick, R., Mörk, S. and Bö, L., 1998. Axonal transection in the lesions of multiple sclerosis. New England Journal of Medicine, 338(5), pp.278-285.
- Sospedra, M. and Martin, R., 2005. Immunology of multiple sclerosis. Annu. Rev. Immunol., 23, pp.683-747.
- Dendrou, C.A., Fugger, L. and Friese, M.A., 2015. Immunopathology of multiple sclerosis. Nature Reviews Immunology, 15(9), pp.545-558.
- Genain, C.P., Cannella, B., Hauser, S.L. and Raine, C.S., 1999. Identification of autoantibodies associated with myelin damage in multiple sclerosis. Nature medicine, 5(2),pp.170-175.
- Alvarez, J.I., Cayrol, R. and Prat, A., 2011. Disruption of central nervous system barriers in multiple sclerosis. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA)-Molecular Basis of Disease, 1812(2), pp.252-264.
- Eilertsen, G., Ormstad, H., Kirkevold, M., Mengshoel, A.M., Söderberg, S. and Olsson, M., 2015. Similarities and differences in the experience of fatigue among people living with fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, ankylosing spondylitis and stroke. Journal of clinical nursing, 24(13-14), pp.2023-2034.
- Suzuki, A., Kochi, Y., Okada, Y. and Yamamoto, K., 2011. Insight from genome-wide association studies in rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis. FEBS letters, 585(23), pp.3627-3632.
- Truini, A., Barbanti, P., Pozzilli, C. and Cruccu, G., 2013. A mechanism-based classification of pain in multiple sclerosis. Journal of neurology, 260(2), pp.351-367.
- Frohman, E.M., Racke, M.K. and Raine, C.S., 2006. Multiple sclerosis—the plaque and its pathogenesis. New England Journal of Medicine, 354(9), pp.942-955.
- Thompson, A.J., 1996. Multiple sclerosis: symptomatic treatment. Journal of neurology, 243(8), pp.559-565.
- Negahban, H., Rezaie, S. and Goharpey, S., 2013. Massage therapy and exercise therapy in patients with multiple sclerosis: a randomized controlled pilot study. Clinical rehabilitation, 27(12), pp.1126-1136.
- Halper, J. and Holland, N.J., 2005. Multiple sclerosis: a self-care guide to wellness. Demos medical publishing.
- Ozgocmen, S., Bulut, S., Ilhan, N., Gulkesen, A., Ardicoglu, O. and Özkan, Y., 2005. Vitamin D deficiency and reduced bone mineral density in multiple sclerosis: effect of ambulatory status and functional capacity. Journal of bone and mineral metabolism, 23(4), pp.309-313.
- Va.gov. 2020. VA.Gov | Veterans Affairs. [online] Available at: <https://www.va.gov/MS/Veterans/benefits/Emotional_Support_Services_for_Veterans_and_Families.asp> [Accessed 11 August 2020].