The MS Hug, not just for MS (Multiple Sclerosis).
Do you sometimes feel as though a gorilla is giving you a huge hug around your rib cage and the result is PAIN! Yes, that is the MS Hug. You may experience this pain around your entire rib cage or just part of your rib cage.
Here is an excerpt from About.com on MS Hugs:
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 abormal 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.
Hope you find this helpful. I was experiencing the MS Hug for years so I thought you may find this helpful if you are experiencing the same pains.
Side notes: you may still experience MS Hugs without having MS. It’s called Costochondritis.
How to Get Relief from the MS Hug aka Costochondritis!
The best way I have found to calm it down is with ice packs (I prefer the gel kind) on the breastbone and upper back following the spine downwards. This is the best way I have discovered to relieve it quicker. You can also take one or two of your muscle relaxants such as; gabapentin, valium, flexeril, robaxin … whatever meds you have to assist the process but ice packs is a given with it or you will be waiting a lot longer for it to subside.
Good Luck and Big Hugs! Stay Strong!