Surgeons looking at a patient, featured image to illustrate MS and anaesthesia

MS and anaesthesia

I have SPMS and am due a knee replacement. I wondered if there are any additional risks I need to consider with the surgery and anaesthesia?

All anaesthesia carries a small amount of risk, and your clinicians should carefully talk you though all the factors associated with the surgery, any increased risks due health conditions and any concerns you might have. This can sometimes be a lot to take in. The hospital should be able to give you leaflets and information to take away and read.

There have been studies on the subject of anaesthesia and MS, and there is no evidence that anaesthesia negatively affects people with MS more than it would with the general population.

Depending on individual patient needs there are exceptions to this and areas where risks may higher. If people have respiratory and breathing issues, there may be an increased risk of complications. There may also be some medications that people with MS take that can interact with anaesthesia. Talk to your surgeon and anaesthetist and make sure they are aware of all your medications, supplements, and your full medical history. It is worth contacting your MS team to let them know you are going in for surgery, too.

Although generally there are no additional risks from anaesthesia for people with MS, if you experience fatigue, muscle weakness, and symptoms like neuropathic pain, it may take longer to recover and rehabilitate. You should be given independent living mobility aids such as a walking frame or crutches (if you don’t already have them) when you are discharged from hospital, and you should get support from a physiotherapist with exercises to help build up strength in your knee.

The physiotherapy that will be offered once you are discharged may be time limited. If you feel you need additional support from a physiotherapist beyond their standard offering, you can request additional sessions. If this is not possible it would be worth speaking to your neuro-rehabilitation team who may be able to advice further.