Tips for Dealing With Pain When You Have LEMS
Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome (LEMS) is a rare autoimmune disorder that affects the nerve cells controlling muscle movement. In addition to muscle weakness, fatigue, and eye problems, pain is a common symptom of LEMS. Here are some ways to help you cope.
What causes pain in LEMS?
In LEMS, the immune system mistakenly attacks nerve cell endings where they meet muscle cells. This impedes the transmission of electrical impulses from the nerve cells to the muscle cells. Over time, they waste away due to inactivity, causing pain.
Where does it hurt?
Arm and leg movements are affected in LEMS. People with the disorder may find it difficult to walk, get up from a chair, climb steps, or exit a car.
Although the levels of severity vary, LEMS patients commonly experience pain in their lower limbs, including the thighs, and in the lower back. Your muscles may ache and become tender. In some cases, simple exertion can cause this.
Doctors usually address pain and improper gait — a person’s manner of walking — in LEMS after disease treatment starts. Therapies such as intravenous immunoglobulin can help block the immune system from attacking the nerve cells, which may help relieve pain.
Cannabidiol or CBD, which is derived directly from the hemp plant and can be used in many forms, also is thought to help with LEMS symptoms, including pain and fatigue. In addition to reducing inflammation, CBD may promote better sleep quality. This may be helpful for some patients, as people with chronic pain often experience sleep disruption. Speak with your physician about whether the treatment is right for you.
While more research is needed, physiotherapy may help strengthen muscles and improve patients’ range of motion. That, in turn, could help reduce pain. Discuss your exercise goals with a physiotherapist who can help you design a safe exercise routine.
In addition, over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may help, sometimes in conjunction with prescribed treatments. NSAIDs include aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen sodium, which is known by the brand name Aleve. Discuss these options with your physician.
Meditation also has been shown to reduce the intensity of pain. One thought is that the practice decreases stress, which in turn may lessen pain.
An effective support network can help you as you deal with pain. Not only can members encourage and motivate each other, but they also can share ideas about what worked, and what didn’t, for them.
Last updated: June 8, 2020
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