What Does MS Hug Feel Like & How Long Does It Last?

Multiple sclerosis is a debilitating neurological disease that is progressive in nature and can lead to decreased quality of life. It is thought to be an autoimmune disease in which auto-antibodies destroy the myelin sheaths exposing the nerve fibers to more insult. The disease affects the central nervous system, including the brain, optic nerve and spinal cord. The chronic insult to the nerves is the reason for ensuing symptoms, which range from visual disturbances to fatigue, paresthesias, gait abnormalities and muscular pain.

What Is MS Hug?

MS hug is just another symptom of various symptoms of multiple sclerosis. It is a feeling of restriction and tightness felt over a part of body, such as chest, torso, back, neck, waist and even in legs and extremities. MS hug is caused by involuntary muscle spasms caused by the involved muscles, such as when chest area is involved, it is caused by the spasm of intercostal muscles. However, these symptoms can also be due to other conditions such as constochondritis (inflammation of intercostal cartilage) or transverse myelitis (inflammation of spinal cord).

What Does MS Hug Feel Like & How Long Does It Last?

What Does MS Hug Feel Like?

MS hug is a feeling of restriction or tightness over the affected area, such as a feeling of pressure. This feeling may or may not be accompanied by pain; if pain is present it might be of dull, achy to sharp and stabbing quality. It may also be associated with a feeling of paresthesias, such as tingling, numbness, crawling feeling, and burning sensation in the affected part of the body. The feeling might be squeezing or crushing and the movement of the affected part may be restricted, that is why the name MS hug, likewise one is restrictive in movement in a hug.

How Long Does MS Hug Last?

Just like multiple sclerosis is not a predictable disease, MS hug is also unpredictable with surprise onset. In some, it is short lasting while in others it may be persistent. Some may feel MS hug for seconds to hours while others may feel it for weeks to months, while in others it is persistent for years. It may be persistent or may flare-up suddenly. The duration of MS hug differs from individual to individual, so it cannot be said definitively how long it will last. Of note, MS hug does not mean the progression or worsening of multiple sclerosis, it simply means that there are precipitating factors that lead to flare-ups.

What Is The Cause Of MS Hug?

As multiple sclerosis is caused by an insult to the nerve sheath wherein the impulse conduction is either disrupted or blocked. This disruption or blocked impulse conduction may lead to muscle spasms and this leads to various symptoms in MS hug, invariably known as dysesthesias, meaning abnormal sensations. For example, the spasm of intercostal muscles will lead to MS hug symptoms felt in the chest and torso area. MS hug may be further precipitated by either stress, infection, heat, fatigue or any undue insult to the body or mind. Therefore, it is important to de-stress, rest, cool down and get rid of any infections in the body.

How Is MS Hug Managed?

Although, there is no permanent treatment of multiple sclerosis, likewise, there is no permanent treatment of MS hug. The management is only symptomatic and identifying the underlying precipitating factor and managing it first. As the underlying disease is due to neurologic insult, MS hug pain can be felt as muscle spasm. The nerve pain could be difficult to resolve. The pain can be managed with gabapentin, amitriptyline, duloxetine, diazepam, or baclofen. Apart from pain medications, steroids can also be prescribed in some cases.

Apart from pain medications, it is important to avoid wearing tight clothing, which may precipitate the condition further. Loose and light clothing are better suited when experiencing such flare-up. In addition, breathing techniques and meditation can also prove helpful, if stress is the exacerbating factor.

References:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17531847

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