MS Hug

MS Hug 1Do y’all know what the worst and most unwelcoming hug ever is? The MS Hug is definitely the type of hug none of us really want! It is anything but loving and comforting causing a lot of discomfort and possible pain. The MS Hug is a collection of symptoms that is caused by spasms in the intercostal muscles. The muscles that are involved are located between the ribs. The MS Hug got its “nickname”, so to speak, from the way the pain wraps around the body basically like a hug or a girdle. The involuntary muscle spasms are also referred to as girdling or MS girdling. This not so exciting hug can last anywhere from a few seconds to hours at a time! The good news is the MS Hug does not mean the MS has progressed; it is just having what I refer to as a temper tantrum and will go away!

What exactly does the MS Hug feel like? Like Multiple Sclerosis itself, the MS Hug is very unpredictable and experienced differently by each person. Some that have experienced the MS Hug have pressure around the waist, torso or neck instead of pain. Some people encounter a band of tingling in the waist, torso or neck. Others that experience the MS Hug have a sharp, stabbing pain or a dull widespread aching feeling. During the MS Hug some may also experience a sensation of squeezing, crushing, MS Hugcrawling feelings under the skin, hot or cold burning or even pin and needles.

How is the MS Hug treated? Considering the MS Hug is a result of muscle spasms, the pain that is felt is neurologic in nature. This basically means this is nerve pain which can be difficult to resolve. Believe me I know how frustrating that is to hear, but sadly it is true! I have dealt with the wonderful MS Hug many times and it is never a pleasant hug! Over-the-counter pain relievers such as Ibuprofen or Acetaminophen are not likely to bring any true relief. According to the National MS Society the drug classes approved to treat the nerve pain from the MS Hug are: antispasticity medications (ex. diazepam), anticonvulsants medications (ex. gabapentin) and antidepressants (ex. amitriptyline). Please remember that I am not a medical professional, I just have personal experience with the MS Hug and this is what was recommended to me previously. 

What are possible triggers of the MS Hug? As with everything else involved with Multiple Sclerosis, triggers vary from person to person. However the most common triggers are: heat, stress and fatigue, all times when the body is not running at 100%. This could be an indication that rest needs to increase, take time to cool off from the heat properly and find ways to de-stress. We all know that excessive heat is very unhealthy and that too much stress is detrimental to all of us!

Ms Hug Information - Updated 4/2/13 : General Discussion - Page 2

Ms Hug Information – Updated 4/2/13 : General Discussion – Page 2 – Top Master Data

My personal experiences with the infamous MS Hug have been limited, but they have happened WAY more than I would have liked! I have actually been dealing with this hug on and off for a few days now, but of course was trying to just ignore it as I always do. I have not done the appropriate things to help heal, like finding ways to de-stress. Of course I know better, but I continue to take on more stress instead of brushing it off! It is so important to know there are somethings in life we have NO control over, so why bother allowing that into our lives? I ask myself that question daily, but yet I do always try to help others that do not seem to appreciate or even really want my help! I guess I will learn my lesson someday! 

Just out of curiosity, have any of you experienced the MS Hug? The name makes it sound so sweet and wonderful, but my goodness it has never been welcomed or enjoyed! I am hoping that considering I am doing what is necessary this hug will go away soon and NOT come back anytime soon. I feel like MS does not understand personal boundaries. Unwelcome and unwanted hugs definitely invades my personal space! 

I sincerely appreciate you visiting my site today! I look forward to any comments you may have and I do promise to respond as quickly as I can. Thank goodness we are half way through the week and the weekend will be here soon! I hope y’all have a great and relaxing evening!

Love 2

Always, Alyssa

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31 thoughts on “MS Hug

  1. I get this! I didn’t know that there were triggers for it & haven’t noticed why I get mine when I do (just thought it was another nasty tidbit to add to the list!) so I’ll try to look out for that in future. For me it’s an uncomfortable squeezing sensation around my ribcage. Definitely my least favourite hug ever!

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    • There seems to always be the same triggers for everything we go through! Stress and heat are the key triggers for issues! My MS hugs are normally that very uncomfortable squeezing sensation, but also causes pain sometimes. Honestly right now I feel like there is a snake around me trying to squeeze the life out of me, but it is incredibly painful right now. There is not getting comfortable. I use a heating pad and we are pretty inseparable! They are really are the most evil hugs!

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      • It’s so strange as I often hear that the heat affects a lot of people with MS but I am much worse in the cold. Winter is always the worst time for me.
        Stress used to be a big factor & triggered some of my worst flares, but I switched my job & I don’t tend to get very stressed thankfully these days. My symptoms do flare up when I’m tired or if I’ve had alcohol, but also sometimes for no apparent reason from what I can tell.
        Isn’t it weird how it can be so different for different people?
        I hope MS soon stops trying to be your friend by giving you hugs! It’s bad enough just feeling uncomfortable but worse when there’s pain too. Hope you’re okay.

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      • Everyone, including my doctors have said that heat is horrible for MS, but it helps me SO much. I mean humidity is bad, but my heating pad is great! The winter is always really bad for me too! I think it is because the cold temperatures make me tense up so that creates pain.
        Stress is the absolute worse for me. The flare up I had in October was the worst one I have had in almost 17 years. I was stressed about work and medications. It makes sense symptoms flare with fatigue. I am really bad about resting. I try to do everything for everyone and neglect myself all the time. I guess that is probably why I am feeling the way I am feeling now. Alcohol creates flare ups for you? I do not drink often for other reasons, but I have not noticed any issues with it. When I was first diagnosed I was so upset about it I drank a lot, but I don’t anymore!
        MS is very strange in how it is so different with everyone.
        I hope the MS will just take a break, I really do not need a hug:)! I have pain in my back all the time anyways, so this just adds a little. I hope you are feeling well!!!

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  2. I have gotten this on rare occasions. It was very scary the first time. I really didn’t know what was happening. I left work and took a muscle relaxer, baclofen, that I take regularly. It seemed to help, but it definitely lasted for 2 to 3 hours. When it happened again, I knew exactly what was happening and what I needed to do.

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    • It was pretty scary the first time this happened to me as well. It is not a comfortable feeling at all, but it does go away in time. I also take baclofen and it does help with most things. This hug has lasted a little longer this time, but it is probably due to stress. Do you remember if there was anything unique going on when this happened to you? I mean were you under stress or was it too hot? Thank you for your comment!! I hope the rest of your week goes well!!

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  3. I’ve been there and it is NOT fun! In fact, at first I didn’t really know what it was but it didn’t take me long to phone my Neurologist to find out what was happening! I haven’t had it lately though as I am on all three (gabapentin, baclofen and amitrypline) which I am hopeful I will be able to get off at some point in time but for now, they are helping me! Have a great rest of your week!

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    • I know how scary it is at first and I am so happy to hear you have not had this happen a lot lately! I have been on baclofen and gabapentin for a while and I notice it helps me. The gabapentin helps the issues with my legs. I hope the rest of your week goes fantastic!!

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  4. Hi Alyssa, I hope you are well! I’ve been away from here for a couple of weeks, kids are off school for Easter so its been hard to find a minute to myself!…I think I experienced this on Saturday actually, it was an overwhelming pressure around my ribs, I really hurt and lasted about 5hours. It cleared and I thought nothing of it again but reading this I feel strongly that it was definitely the ‘hug’ what do you think? x x

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  5. I’m thinking that this is what happens every time I have a relapse. It feels like everything inside my torso and my spinal cord are being crushed. I’m unable to use my right side of my body and it’s very hard to breathe or talk? Seeing as I’m recently diagnosed, is this the “infamous Ms hug”?

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    • I am so sorry you that you have that happen during a relapse. Please remember that I am not a doctor, so I just give my opinion based on my personal experiences, that really does sound just like the MS Hug. I do recommend you let your doctor know that this happens to you. It seems like it has been a while, how are you doing?

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  6. I also didn’t know there were triggers! I’ll have to keep an eye out for them when I experience this. I went a few months last year with the MS hug consecutively and now although it’s not constant I still get a neuropathic itch from time to time. I’m glad you haven’t had it very much. Hopefully you wont. It was awful when I was being diagnosed, They thought the pain was 4 different things before they considered the hug.

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    • It is so difficult and frustrating communicating with doctors at times, but they get things right in their time! I am sorry to hear you had the MS Hug for months, but hope it does not happen again to you at least for a long time! I hope you have a great day!

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    • It is definitely not a nice hug! If it was for some kind of joke, the person that named it has a horrible sense of humor! I guess it makes sense considering how it feels, but it isn’t pleasant! I hope you are having a good day and thank you for your comment!

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  7. OMGoodness YES! The hug from hell. I explain it like a vice is closing on me. For over a year I had ‘chest’ pain. I was in the ER 8 times. They said, ‘oh it’s an ms hug.’ I explained each time, no it’s not. Drug me w/morphine, send me home. The last visit, the doc was ready to send me home. I grabbed his hand and in tears begged him for an ultrasound. I know my body, it’s not the hug. Reluctantly he agreed… My gallbladder was removed 4 days later. We know the hug, they need to listen!!

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    • My goodness I am sorry you went through that. We all do know our bodies, so we know when it is more than the exciting MS hug and docs need to listen. I have been dealing with the ms hug on and off for a while now, but I know it is due to stress. We all need to stay strong to what we know is true and hopefully these docs will learn to listen to us! I am glad you are okay though!

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  8. Wow, I had never heard of this! I am so sorry for this and all of the other symptoms you and others with MS have to deal with. Y’all are truly warriors!!

    Thank you for posting this, you always explain things so well. I hope you are having a good day and your week went well! ❤

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    • Thank you so much Hillary! In a crazy way, the MS Hug is almost the easiest thing to deal with. It definitely isn’t fun at all, but even if it comes back time and time again it will go away and thankfully doesn’t mean the MS is progressing. I have wondered if I can deal with this hug because I always have pain anyways, the hug just adds a little more and some additional discomfort. I really appreciate your truly kind words!!

      I hope you have had a great week and I hope you have a fantastic weekend!!!

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    • MS is definitely the “gift” that keeps on giving and not all the nicely! I would rather a hug from another but MS. I think I need a little distance from my MS friend! I hope your weekend is going well so far Alex!

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