Healthy Choices Linked to Reduced Pain for People with Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis (MS) affects the central nervous system and its impact is evident on the body in walking, talking, feeling, and even thinking. So, in addition to abiding by the recommended MS treatment plan, it’s also crucial to take good care of the body by eating a well-balanced diet, gentle to moderate exercising on a regular basis, not smoking, and managing stress. Not only can these approaches help to alleviate MS symptoms, but they can also lower the chances of developing cancer or heart disease, which are two of the most common complications of MS.
Recent research proves that overall health is beneficial
The focus for treating MS is no longer just on the disease itself. It is about optimizing your health in order to make each day living with MS just a little bit easier. A recent study, published by the journal Frontiers in Neurology, found that a healthy lifestyle associated with a healthy diet, regular exercise, and no smoking, is linked to lower pain in MS sufferers. The findings of this study add to available data on how healthy lifestyle changes can positively affect MS symptoms. “Our study found strong associations between lifestyle and pain in people with multiple sclerosis. Smokers are more likely to experience pain, and those that do regular exercise seem less likely to experience pain. We also see strong links between pain and the prevalence of anxiety and depression,” said Claudia Marck, one of the authors of the study.
Multiple sclerosis affects over 2.5 million individuals around the globe and it often causes symptoms such as chronic pain and limited range of motion. However, chronic pain is often treated with painkillers, which are expensive and can present severe side effects. So, Marck and fellow researchers at the University of Melbourne set out to assess ways in which healthy lifestyle changes can alleviate pain associated with MS. The researchers examined the responses of over 2,500 individuals with MS from around the world, taking into account their symptoms, lifestyle, and social demographics. They found that individuals with MS who smoked were 2x as likely to report pain, as opposed to individuals with MS who did not smoke. “With smoking, studies have shown a detrimental feedback loop. In the long term, smoking has been reported to increase the likelihood of chronic pain. However, in the short term it dulls the pain, so this may motivate people with pain to smoke,” said Marck. Moreover, the researchers found that individuals with MS who smoked, especially those who were depressed, found it rather difficult to quit, as quitting increased their sensitivity to pain.
Read on to learn more about these findings and what they mean for people living with multiple sclerosis.