Nothing Like a Hug

Have you ever heard of the “MS HUG”. I experienced the MS Hug pretty severely prior to my diagnosis and had no idea what it was. I have had it several times over the past two years, but more mild forms. I am also starting to suspect that some weird hip pain/spasms that I have are related as well. I am currently in the middle of an “MS Hug” attack and it has been going on since yesterday morning. If the truth be told, the past few months have been a bit of a roller coaster. For the most part, I have felt pretty good, but have definitely been experiencing some fatigue. Luckily, I have been able to recoup and recharge each weekend, but I am dragging by midweek. I attribute this to increased workload/stress at work and to the fact that I have not been as hardcore as I should be with my diet.

On Monday, I have a visit with my Neurologist to review a new set of MRIs and will let him know what is going on. I do not think this is a relapse just my body reminding me to smarten up. Should Solumedrol be recommended, I will decline. Christmas is too close and I believe I can get through this little blip without steriods.

The MS Hug is nothing like a hug. If you have had this symptom and have figured out how to ease the pain, let me know!

I’ve included some information from that I think it is pretty accurate and very closely describes my symptoms.
Multiple sclerosis pain can be felt in strange places. One of the weirdest pain-related symptoms is the MS “hug” or girdle-band sensation.

How Common is the “MS Hug?”

This is hard to say. Up to 75% of people with MS will experience pain as a symptom, but statistics on the MS hug are difficult to find.

What Causes the “MS Hug?”
It is caused by a lesion on the spinal cord and is technically classified as a neuropathic pain called a “paresthesia,” which refers to any abnormal sensation. The sensation itself is the result of tiny muscles between each rib (intercostal muscles) going into spasm. These muscles have the job of holding our ribs together, as well as keeping them flexible and aiding in movement, like forced expiration.

What Does It Feel Like?

Like many MS symptoms, the “MS hug” feels different for different people – it also feels different in the same people on different days or at different times of day. It can be:

* As low as the waist or as high as the chest; rarely it can be felt as high as the shoulders and neck
* Focused in one small area (usually on one side or in the back) or go all the way around the torso
* Worse when fatigued or stressed
* Present in “waves” lasting seconds, minutes or hours or can be steady for longer periods of time
* Described as sharp pain, dull pain, burning pain, tickling, tingling, a crushing or constricting sensation or intense pressure

How Severe Can It Get?

Some people experience difficulty breathing or painful breathing, so severe that it is often perceived as a heart attack or panic attack.


3 responses to “Nothing Like a Hug

  1. CC,

    I experienced it one time, early on, and luckily I’ve never had it come back.

    I’m on this Yahoo Group called “MS-Diet”. Some people there claim the “Best Bet Diet” has helped get rid of their ‘bear hug’. I’ve been doing the diet for a few months and I have noticed some incredible cognitive improvements. You might have already checked out the BBD site, but here it is:


  2. Hi Courtney

    Sorry to hear about your relapse. Hope that it passes quickly and without steroids being necessary.

    I experienced The Hug a lot during my earlier relapses. I never felt pain at all, it was just an uncomfortable feeling of being constricted, as if wearing a tight bra and waitband and I had difficulty breathing, too. It was more or less permanent, as long as the relapse lasted, and I’ve always had these long, drawn-out relapses.

    Not my fave feeling in the world, I must say!

    This has got to be one of the weirdest illnesses, hey?

    Try and take it easy at work, okay.

  3. This comment was posted to another page and I wanted to be sure it was seen:

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