The MS Hug

The MS hug is a sensation of tightening around the torso.

The MS Hug

By Multiple Sclerosis Connect Staff Published at December 20, 2017 Views 11,580 Comments 6 Likes 2

Nothing brightens someone's day quite like a hug. We hug the friends we haven't seen recently, or hug our family to let them know we love them. Hugs are a way to tell people we care, and know that they care back. However, there's one hug that's anything but heartwarming: the MS hug.

The MS hug is a multiple sclerosis symptom that makes your torso feel like it's being squeezed. For some people, this is only a sensation of pressure. For others, however, it can be a painful experience, similar to being crushed. The sensation is caused by muscles in the torso going into spasms. The hug itself isn't actually exclusive to MS, and is called "girdling" when it happens for other reasons. However, when MS causes a hug, it's a result of nerve damage sending the wrong signals to muscles intended to keep you upright or allow you to bend over.

The MS hug can last anywhere from seconds to hours according to Distraction and relaxation techniques can help you get through the hug until it goes away. Reading a book, doing yoga, or simply focusing on your breathing are all ways you can keep calm during an MS hug. Another technique recommended on the MS Trust blog (which may seem a little counterintuitive) is to place a tight band over the area or put on a snug piece of clothing. The idea is that it tricks the brain into ignoring the tightness. Whether or not that's really why it works, some people who try it report relief.

Remember that an MS hug will pass eventually. Whether your experience is merely unpleasant or terribly painful, help yourself through it by focusing on the time in the near future when you won't be going through it. In the meantime, try to stay calm and reduce the stress that you may experience.

For more on MS relapses:

Making an MS-Friendly Home
MS Fatigue or Sleep Disorder?
Tips for Living with MS Tremors

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