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Another MS Symptom: Sciatic Nerve Pain at a Whole New Level

July 17, 2017

Multiple sclerosis (MS) patient and column writer for MS News Today, Debi Wilson, talks about a new MS symptom that she began feeling: sciatic nerve pain. The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the body, running from the lower back to the tops of the feet. The pain can happen to anyone, but it is also associated with MS. Wilson says that she has had sciatic nerve pain in the past. She usually did stretches while lying on her bed to alleviate any pain, learning how to manage it. She says she learned to live it with it by doing stretches or walking it off. But until recently, she has been experiencing pain on a whole new level.

One day, after Wilson got up out of her chair, she had the worst burning pain the same area where a sharp pain was. She describes it as if it felt like “someone were poking [her] with a red-hot poker.” She says it continued to attack her every time she went to stand, and sometimes even when she’s trying to sit. Wilson mentions a Multiple Sclerosis Society of New Zealand article, “Multiple Sclerosis and Pain,” written by Anne McAuley and by Dr. Rosemary White, which explores a theory on what causes the sciatic pain in MS. The article argues that most pain with MS is due to immobility or poor posture instead of damaged nerves. Immobility, or sitting in a wheelchair for a long time, puts pressure on the nerves in the back of the legs that generates sciatic pain.

To confirm the article’s claims, Wilson shares a time where she was sitting in her wheelchair for almost three hours before her burning sensation appeared. She says she should have been in a regular chair, and moving around from time to time, instead of sitting for that long. The article she shared even suggests proper seating and elevating of the legs when sitting can help prevent sciatic pain. However, it is important to first check with a doctor to rule out other conditions that could be causing pain. Wilson suggests becoming more mobile, using correct posture, and being aware of the pressure on the back of our legs, which might help averting sciatic nerve pain.