How to Treat Back Pain With MS

Treatment for MS Back Pain: What Are the Options?

Because the causes of back pain are so varied, a wide array of treatment modalities is used. Interventions range from simple home remedies – such as placing a pillow behind your back when sitting and changing your position frequently – to surgery.

Factors to consider when exploring your options for reducing back pain include:

  • What is the nature of the pain?
  • Is the pain continuous or intermittent?
  • How does the pain interfere with the quality of your life?
  • What does your health care provider recommend?
  • What are the benefits and drawbacks of available treatment modalities?
  • How quickly can you expect to feel better?
  • What are interventions that you have used in the past which worked or did not work for you
  • How much does the treatment cost – in terms of time, energy, and money?

Physical and Occupational Therapy

Therapists provide services that can help to preserve the function of your muscles, thereby preventing MS back pain from occurring. They do this via the use of exercises, stretching, and the application of supportive devices, such as splints or braces.

Your therapist may recommend that you exercise in a heated pool in order to relieve pain, enhance flexibility, and promote feelings of well-being. Therapists may use a hot or cold pack to relieve pain. They may utilize specialized equipment such as ultrasound, or transcutaneous electronic nerve stimulating devices (TENS).

Alternative and Complementary Therapies

Yoga may be beneficial for you. Studies indicate that yoga reduces pain, enhances mood, and improves energy levels among individuals who have a diagnosis of MS. Acupuncture, acupressure, biofeedback, and relaxation techniques may be helpful too.


Low-level laser therapy is a safe treatment option which relieves back and neck pain. It can be beneficial for any pain which involves muscles, or connective tissues. Low-level laser therapy may improve your mobility and range of motion. You may obtain immediate relief after just one session.

Various massage techniques may be helpful; however, some people who have MS find that touch increases their pain level. Myofascial release is a specific touch therapy which works on the fascia, a special kind of connective tissue that is interwoven throughout all of the tissues of your body.

To perform a myofascial release, a practitioner applies gentle hand pressure to your body and holds it for approximately two minutes before proceeding to the next area. This technique is very gentle and may be used even if your MS is advanced or if you are frail.

Osteopathic manipulation is a touch therapy which restores the flow of fluid within your brain and spine. It is used to relieve back, joint, and neck pain as well as headaches. Osteopaths use the technique to restore the energy pathways of your body and relieve stress.


Antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, and relaxant drugs are used to relieve muscle spasms and spasticity. Some of these medications are controlled substances which may cause drowsiness.

While most medications are taken orally, some people benefit from the use of patches, injections, or indwelling pumps that deliver medications directly to painful areas.


When pain is severe or does not respond to other treatment options, surgery may be used to provide relief. Part of the spinal nerve which affects the painful area may be severed. Tendons may be cut in order to relieve tension due to painful, tight muscles.

What’s Next for Multiple Sclerosis and Back Pain Problems?

Treatment of pain caused by MS is often complex. Preventative techniques are essential if your disease is in its early stages.

If you have pain, you may need to employ several techniques to obtain relief. Fortunately, many options are available. Work with your health care team to determine which strategies are best for you and your MS back pain.

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Patricia BratianuPatricia Bratianu

Patricia is a registered nurse with 40 years of experience. She has a PhD in natural health and is a registered herbalist with the American Herbalists Guild.

Nov 28, 2018
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