As everyone reading this now and who has read some of my previous posts knows, I have had Multiple Sclerosis for over 20 years. This has been something I have lived with for almost half of my life, and I still find it extremely frustrating. Even after all these years, there are still things I do not understand or know about this disease. The one obvious thing is how unpredictable it can be. I do find it amazing how much we can adapt to and tolerate life when we have no other choice but to keep moving forward.
There are many things about Multiple Sclerosis and days living with this disease that can feel like things will never improve, which can make you feel hopeless. Even though I have days when I feel like this, I also believe that we are not forced to deal with anything we cannot handle! Of course, it takes a strength we never knew we had, but it is possible to keep moving forward.
I wish I knew the name of the person who thought they were being clever and humorous by naming something the “MS Hug” because this is the worst kind of hug I have ever heard of. It completely ignored the advice from the experts about social distancing and never considered getting approval before hugging someone. I have always thought that MS Hug was very disrespectful and invasive.
Even though I still do not know who came up with the name, I do know that MS Hug is very uncomfortable, but it is not life-threatening even though it feels like it is at times. The MS Hug is an uncomfortable, sometimes painful tightness or pressure around the abdomen or chest. This can last for seconds or minutes, which is the best-case scenario but can also last hours or longer.
There are two effects of Multiple Sclerosis that can trigger the MS hug to happen. One is muscle spasms in the small muscles between the ribs, known as the intercostal muscles. The second is changes in sensations known as dysesthesia, which while they can be, are not always painful.
Just like everything else regarding Multiple Sclerosis, everyone experiences the MS Hug differently. The ways that help one person may not help another in the same way. Various things can help or even eliminate the MS Hug sensation including the following:
Discover your triggers:
This could include fatigue, temperature changes, eating a large meal, feeling unwell, or being stressed. It may not always be easy to discover what triggers the MS hug, but once you do it may be a good plan to avoid or at least reduce the issues you know are your triggers. Keeping a journal with what the temperature was each day, stress level, feelings of fatigued, and what you eat each day may help to determine what your triggers are.
Loose vs Tight Clothing:
For many people tight clothing triggers, them to experience the MS hug and even makes the sensation worse. This may mean not wearing an underwired bra or removing it as soon as your situation allows. It will just seem logical to wear loose clothing if you know tight clothing causes problems. As with everything else, tight clothing helps some people to deal with the MS hug. For reasons not always understood, the grip of tighter clothing can distract the brain, making the MS hug sensation less noticeable.
Moving and or Stretching:
For some people staying mobile and stretching relieves the pain from the MS hug, but for some people laying down is the only thing that offers them any relief. This is all a matter of personal choice and what helps you the most!
The use of hot or cold compress:
Again, different things work better for each person, so you just need to play around with heat and cold compresses until you know what works best for you. Hot water bottles, warm towels, or a heating pad when applied to the affected area may offer relief. If this does not work, you can try a cold compress or an ice pack to the affected area. Please understand and be careful of both hot and cold as it is easy to cause further damage to the skin.
Physiotherapy or other physical treatments:
his can include TENS which is transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation. I honestly do not know a lot about this because something about electrical nerve stimulation scares me, but I have heard it can be helpful!
Relaxation, Mindfulness, and CBT:
Relaxation and mindfulness exercises can be helpful for anyone, not just those dealing with MS and the MS hug. Things like self-hypnosis and hypnotherapy have been successful for many people around the world. Controlled breathing techniques can be found with a quick Google search and are inexpensive.
Multiple Sclerosis has come along way with treatment since I was diagnosed, but for some reason there still is not a cure. I wish there was a magical medication that could make all the pain and issues I deal with daily go away, but until there is I will just continue to fight and not allow this unpredictable, frustrating, and ugly disease steal the light and fire I have inside me. As I am sure you can assume, I am dealing with the MS hug right now and it has been a struggle. I am SO thankful that I work from home because with the way I was feeling today, there is no way I could have driven to an office and dealt with being this uncomfortable for 8 very long hours.
Anyone that is reading this and has Multiple Sclerosis, have you dealt with this issue before and if so what helps you? The funny thing is, normally heat is my enemy, but for this issue and other types of pain, my heating pad is my best friend. The only way I can be comfortable is wearing loose clothing because I find that to be the most comfortable. The weather has been changing each week, so I can only assume that might be the reason the evil hug is back!
Thank you for visiting my site today. I hope the information that I have shared was useful and interesting to you. I am looking forward to reading your comments because I am sure what you have to say will be helpful. I hope you had a good week and you have an amazing weekend! Please never forget that I am always sending y’all LOTS of love, comfort, support, and MANY positive vibes!