Topic Overview

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). Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
  • Amitriptyline (Elavil), imipramine, or nortriptyline, for burning sensations.
  • Cannabidiol (Sativex).
  • Carbamazepine (Tegretol).
  • Gabapentin (Neurontin). This drug may also help relieve muscle stiffness and tightness (spasticity).
  • Phenytoin (Dilantin).
  • Pregabalin (Lyrica).

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. Canada was the first country in the world to approve a cannabis-based spray for treatment of pain caused by MS.

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


Other Works Consulted

  • Yadav V, et al. (2014). Summary of evidence-based guideline: Complementary and alternative medicine in multiple sclerosis: Report of the Guideline Development Subcommittee of the American Academy of Neurology. Neurology, 82(12): 1083–1092.


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Andrew Swan, MD, CCFP, FCFP - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Barrie J. Hurwitz, MD - Neurology

Current as ofFebruary 20, 2015