17 Drug alternative pain relief options

Lee-Anne.JPGNo one should have to suffer with pain and not everyone believes drugs are the solution, so we asked Multiple Sclerosis Specialist Nurse, Lee-Anne Dippenaar for some drug free alternatives that could help relieve pain

Not everyone with MS experiences pain all the time, but most are likely to experience some kind of pain at some point when living with the condition. When pain strikes, it can be difficult at first to decipher what it is, where it’s coming from and what might be causing it.

In issue 104 of New Pathways I address the subject of pain in more detail, but if you are someone who wants to try drug-free alternatives that could help relieve pain, here are my recommendations:

  1. Physiotherapy

It can help with movement, flexibility and posture to alleviate pain. Loss of muscle strength causes deconditioning which worsens pain

  1. Occupational therapy

See an occupational therapist for adaptations in and around the home so it’s easier to use or access and helps ease the pain a little

  1. Just keep moving

When you have pain you probably want to sit or lie down. Small movements will improve blood circulation and ease pain

  1. Good posture

Advice about posture can help with muscle pain. Poor posture can aggravate pain and cause pain to radiate

  1. Reduce alcohol intake

Alcohol affects the central nervous system. It can cause sleep disturbances and leave you tired, triggering pain

  1. Stop smoking

Smoking causes poor circulation and makes chronic pain feel more intense

  1. Find a hobby

Focusing on a hobby or something to distract you from thinking about pain constantly can help

  1. Relaxation

Learn new relaxation techniques, such as listening to music. Practice meditation, mindfulness, deep breathing, gentle walking, singing and being outdoors in nature

  1. Take it easy

Try not to do too much in one go. Plan better and spread tasks out so you don’t overexert yourself and exacerbate pain

  1. Massage

Try massage, it reduces stress and alleviates tension in muscles

  1. Acupuncture

It involves stimulating sensory nerves under the skin and in the muscles of the body to provide relief

  1. Reflexology

This involves applying pressure to feet and hands, which can relieve stress within the body

  1. Aromatherapy

Try aromatherapy for relaxation. There is no clinical evidence that these therapies are effective for everyone, but some find it beneficial if done regularly

  1. Eat healthily

Avoid processed inflammatory food (sugary, carbohydrate loaded) and eat real food. A well-balanced diet incorporating green vegetables, unsaturated fat and some fruit aids the digestive process, keeps weight under control, and improves blood sugar levels

  1. Apply hot and cold to the affected area

You can alternate between warm and cold compress techniques to improve blood circulation to the area. It can relax muscles and encourage the healing process

  1. Attend a pain clinic

Your GP or MS nurse can refer you to a pain clinic. You could also join a CBT programme and see a counsellor who can help to understand pain and can encourage a positive attitude

  1. Join a group

Look for your local MS group or an exercise group. Ask others with similar symptoms for advice. Help family understand what you are going through so they can support you

In issue 104 of New Pathways magazine Lee-Anne talks more in-depth about the different types of pain, how to cope and how to manage it. To read her feature, subscribe to New Pathways today


Posted in Drug free alternatives, MS, MS Specialist nurse, MS symptoms, MS-UK, Multiple Sclerosis, New Pathways, Occupational therapy, Pain, Physiotherapy, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Well done RideLondon-ers!

Hello everyone,

Yesterday (Sunday 30 July) we cheered our hearts out to support the dedicated cyclists who pedalled 100 miles for the Prudential RideLondon, and it was an amazing afternoon!IMG_0451.JPG

You can check out the photos on Facebook now!

Huge congratulations are in order for our MS-UK team who have trained so hard for the past months in all types of weather, cycling to conquer this prestigious event. We were so proud to see them all with a smile on their face as they went past our cheering point and on to the finish line in style.

The total funds raised so far have reached over the £2,000 mark and counting. This is a huge achievement and an amount that our riders have been working tirelessly to raise. We hope they all had a well-earned break after the race and they aren’t too achey today!


For most of the fundraising team it was our first time seeing the event and we thoroughly enjoyed the day, cheering on our riders with our megaphones and rapper clappers from our cheering point on Whitehall.

We couldn’t support our MS-UK teams in the way that we do without our super volunteers, so here’s a massive thank you to them too! We are really lucky to have some regular key volunteers at our events, and it just wouldn’t be the same without them. We always need volunteers for events to help them run smoothly.

Of course, we’re opening applications for next year’s event straight away. So if you’re interested in cycling the Prudential RideLondon, get in touch with me by email or call on 01206 226500 and secure your place now!

Well done again to everyone who took part,

Best wishes,


Jenny Poulter

Events Fundraiser, MS-UK

Posted in Charity, Cycling, Do your own thing, family and MS, Fundraising, London, Mini Myles, MS, MS-UK, Multiple Sclerosis, Myles the bear, Prudential Ride London, RideLondon, Uncategorized, Volunteering | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Guest blog: Why I’m taking on RideLondon today

Today we will be heading to the capital to cheer on our amazing RideLondon team as they cycle 100 miles in aid of MS-UK. In this guest blog, Paul Reeve tells us why he’s taking on the challenge…


I’m Paul and I’m riding for MS-UK in the Prudential Ride London-Surrey 100 today!

I started dabbling with a bit of cycling about 6 years ago after I’d given up playing squash. It all started with poodling about on Ashtead common on a mountain bike doing no more than a few miles at a time. Then came the bi-weekly pub cycle, again just a few miles. After a while the distances grew and I tried a few Sportives, the first being 33 miles of London Bridges. As I got to a 50 mile one I borrowed a hybrid from a friend for some training and couldn’t believe the difference so that was soon followed by a hit to the credit card. After that I did the London Nightrider in 2013 which was a real test as it’s through the night. For someone who needs his sleep like I do I have no idea how easily I managed this ride. In 2015 I rode to Paris with my Son on a totally self-managed ride, choosing the shortest route available of course. By then I’d got bike no.3 – a road bike, something I never intended, much like all the clothing and accessories that I never thought I needed.

Scan_20170606.jpgThis is my 2nd chance at the ride thanks to the lovely people at MS-UK as I was meant to do the ride in 2015 (and was feeling reasonably confident after Paris) when I ejected from my bike with one week to go. A cracked rib and punctured lung were the result and I still don’t know to this day what made me come off, all within a mile from home on a perfectly sunny day and without a pothole in sight.

Anyway, here we are again 2 years later. Preparation could not have been worse, particularly the past month, so I’m not feeling too confident with 70 miles as my max mileage to date, but I’ll give it a go. At least the hilly part is my local territory so maybe a bit of local knowledge could come in handy. I’m just hoping I can arrive at the Leatherhead hub with a degree of dignity intact so that my home fans aren’t too disillusioned.

I’ve raised a bit more this time to go with my £600 from 2015 and all for a very worthy cause. I lost my cousin Jeff to MS at the tender age of 44 in that year which is why I have to see this thing through. He had the most Christmas Cracker type sense of humour but always had a joke and a smile.

Good luck to all my fellow riders, especially the MS group.

Good luck to everyone taking on RideLondon today, we’ll be near Trafalgar Square cheering our hearts out with our wonderful volunteers. Look for the purple!

Posted in blogging, Charity, Cycling, family and MS, Fundraising, Guest blog, London, MS, MS-UK, Multiple Sclerosis, Prudential Ride London, RideLondon, Uncategorized, Volunteering | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

MS Society calls for cannabis legalisation

This week, the MS Society has called for the legalisation of cannabis for multiple sclerosis (MS) patients. In their report ‘Cannabis and MS. The role of cannabis in treating MS symptoms’, the MS Society explores the benefits of cannabinoids to those affected by pain and spasticity.

Last year, the MS Society revisited their stance on cannabis for medicinal use to better reflect the evidence, opinions and experiences of people with MS.

They conducted a survey of 3,994 people with MS to explore their attitudes and experiences of cannabis. They found that 22% of people surveyed had tried cannabis for medicinal purposes and 7% were still using it. 26% of people who had stopped taking cannabis, did so largely because of concerns over potential prosecution.

The MS Society now calls for all licensed treatments derived from cannabis to be made available to those who need them. They ask that Sativex, which is a medically licensed, cannabis derived treatment for spasticity, be available on the NHS.

They also recommend that people using cannabis to treat their MS symptoms, as a last resort, should not face prosecution, and that possession should not be a criminal offence.

The report states that the MS Society do not recommend that people smoke cannabis, and also caution that some people, particularly those with previous mental health problems, may have an adverse reaction to medicinal cannabis.

Amy Woolf, CEO of MS-UK, says in response to the news, ‘MS-UK welcomes the MS Society’s new stance and their approach of listening to the voices of people affected by MS. We will be interested to follow the progress made by the MS Society in the future on this very important subject.’


Questions about cannabis?cannabis cover

Get in touch with our helpline advisors or read our Choices leaflet.

Posted in Cannabis, Charity, Chronic illness, disability, Disabled living, MS, MS community, MS Society, MS symptoms, MS-UK, Multiple Sclerosis, neurology, Research, Uncategorized, wellbeing, Wellness | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jack Osbourne: “How I told my family about my diagnosis”


Jack Osborne, the reality TV star and son of rock legend, Ozzy Osbourne and his wife Sharon Osbourne, celebrated his five year anniversary since being diagnosed with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) in April this year.

Since his diagnosis he has become an advocate for the MS community with his ‘You Don’t Know Jack About MS’ campaign in conjunction with Teva Neuroscience. The website offers easily digestible information about MS, as well as regular video updates, called webisodes, from Jack about his MS journey.

In his latest webisode Jack talks about how he told his family about his MS, something every MSer comes up against when they are diagnosed with the condition. His reflection on this time was sparked by a message he received from a successful professional athlete, who has been living with MS and hadn’t told anyone about his diagnosis, but his MS is now becoming a problem for him. He asked Jack, “What do I do?”


Jack said: “That has got to be a very scary, uncomfortable place to be.”

“My whole family was in the room when the doctor came in and said ‘well we think it could be MS’, so they instantly were made aware.”

Jack’s dad attended an appointment with him and he recalls his dad acting strange, “he was acting really awkward,” explained Jack, “but then I couldn’t imagine being in his position, you don’t want anything bad to happen to your kids.”

“My wife was hugely instrumental in that time period with helping out, and kind of not letting me get too down in the dumps because we had a three week old baby.”

Jack said he “constantly likes to challenge” himself, so that’s what he does with his MS. He said: “I kind of framed it as a challenge, it’s just a new hurdle in my life and I’ve got to figure out a way to meander through it, over it, under it, [or] whatever.”

Jack’s advice to the professional athlete was, “He should tell his family about it, the way that he would want to hear it, rehearse it and be prepared to answer a lot of questions.”

Jack likes talking about MS and keeping things positive. He said: “I have a positive outlook about my diagnosis. My outlook is, hey listen! This is what it is, this is how it could affect me, and this is how it’s not going to affect me. Physically I can’t control that, but mentally I can try my hardest to be as positive as possible.”

If you would like to share your own experience of telling friends and family about your MS diagnosis, email newpathways@ms-uk.org.

If you’ve been recently diagnosed with MS, check out MS-UK’s Newly Diagnosed leaflet, which can be downloaded here for free.

Posted in blogging, Chronic illness, Diagnosis, family and MS, MS, MS community, MS News, MS-UK, Multiple Sclerosis, Uncategorized, wellbeing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Have you used the MS-UK Helpline this year? Take our survey to win!

Hi everyone,win icon.png

Tomorrow is the last chance to take our survey all about the MS-UK Helpline, and let us know your opinions if you have used the helpline at all in 2017.

We would like to know why you chose the MS-UK Helpline, whether or not you found the information and support from our team useful and your opinions about our opening hours and accessibility.

This survey is for people who have used the MS-UK Helpline this year (2017). By completing this survey, you are helping us to improve the MS-UK Helpline in the future, so your feedback is invaluable!

As a thank you for sharing your thoughts, one lucky person will be selected at random to win a £50 Love2Shop voucher!

The closing date for this survey is tomorrow (09 August 2017), so don’t delay!

Take the survey now online

Thank you – and good luck!

Best wishes,


Diana Baxter, Head of Services

Posted in Charity, Disabled living, Helpline, MS, MS community, MS symptoms, MS-UK, Multiple Sclerosis, Survey, Uncategorized, welfare, wellbeing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Guest blog: MS and sugar

In her latest guest blog Chloe discusses the effects of sugar on multiple sclerosis and the work of Dr Terry Wahls…

chloe-photo-for-mum-blogI’ve had MS for 16 years now and it’s taken all of those 16 years for me to realise the obvious. Sugar is bad for me and my MS.

Okay okay…I’ve actually always known but have turned a very blind eye to it in the past. I mean sugar is delicious! I have a good diet, don’t get me wrong, but who can resist a sugary treat?! Not me.

The problem with sugar is that the effects are instantaneous with me. If I have something sugary I go tingly. End of story. Even having a yoghurt (pumped full of sugar it seems) would leave me with tingles all down the right side of my face. So the signs that sugar was no good for me were there.

It’s only been recently though that I’ve decided to do something about it. There’s been a lot of research done into the harmful effects of sugar and I couldn’t help but take notice.

There are a lot of websites in particular that talk about the effects sugar has on MS, and how one should avoid it. I found the work of Dr Terry Wahls in particular an interesting read, and was fascinated by her book, The Wahls’ Protocol. The protocol is designed to ‘restore health and vitality to those with MS’, and was created by Dr Wahls after conventional medicine had no effect on the progression of her MS. I, and Dr Wahls, are not suggesting that people with MS shun treatment and go with the diet instead, but purely that it’s an alternative for those who have had no result from treatment. Likewise, it’s a healthy and beneficial diet for all those who have chronic autoimmune conditions, whether they are on treatment or not. I’m on Tysabri which fingers crossed seems to be doing good things so far, but had been failed by 3 treatments before.

Dr Wahls found that changing to a super nutrient Paleo diet transformed her MS. She went from being wheelchair bound to riding a bike and I urge you to look at her work. Though I haven’t managed to stick strictly to the Paleo diet myself (no wheat, barley, dairy, eggs, processed food, sugar, and reduced intake of legumes and potatoes is hard to get your head around when you’re trying to man-handle a 2 year old and living in a predominantly vegetarian household!) the emphasis on sugar was what I really found interesting. To hugely summarise, Dr Wahls’ principle is that care needs to be taken to make sure our body is working as efficiently as possible at a very cellular level. Feeding our body a high-sugar and high-starch diet ‘gum up’ your mitochondria (an important part of our cells) meaning they diminish efficiency. Sugars and starches in particular affect your body detrimentally in two ways. Firstly they are high in calories and fill you up, but provide very little nutritional value. Secondly, they encourage the growth of unfavourable yeasts and bacteria in your gut which can lead to a lot of other problems*.

That evidence, coupled with the fact that I knew full well that it was detrimental to my health (with the instant tingles) it was a no-brainer that I had to cut out sugar from my diet. But my goodness me, it was hard. There is sugar in everything. It’s only when you start looking that you realise the hidden sugars that plague us. I had two weeks of complete detox from sugar (including fruit) and now I am very careful with what I eat, trying to eliminate it as much as possible and not eat more than 10g of sugar a day. I’m no angel though…obviously I still have bad days and slip. But at least I’m aware of the bad effect sugar has on my diet. If I eat some and get tingling and a headache then that’s my own fault and I have no-one else to blame.

6 weeks in and I’m amazed at the effect eating a low sugar diet has had though. Not only have the tingles gone, but I’ve had more energy and more stamina. I just feel brighter. I’ll never know whether it is no-sugar that has done this, or whether it’s coincidence and I’m just in a good remission, but I figured that any changes I can make to my lifestyle to help things along are only a good thing. If you’re stuck in a bit of a fatigue rut, I urge you to give a low-sugar diet a go. What have you got to lose?

*All information can be found in Dr Terry Wahls & Eve Adamson’s book The Wahls’ Protocol (2015), published by Avery.


Posted in blogging, Candida, Chronic illness, Complementary therapies, Diet, disability, Disabled living, Dr Terry Wahls, Guest blog, MS, MS drugs, MS-UK, Multiple Sclerosis, neurology, Uncategorized, wellbeing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment