For most people, there’s not much better than a hug. They are warm and comforting and show the love one person has for another. But, there’s one kind of hug that older adults who have multiple sclerosis (MS) would rather not have—the MS hug. It’s an uncomfortable and sometimes painful symptom of the disease. Knowing more about the MS hug and how it could affect your aging relative can help you to better deal with the symptom when it occurs.
What Does an MS Hug Feel Like?
The MS hug is like a lot of other symptoms of the disease, it’s not the same for everyone. That means it can feel like one thing to your older family member and something entirely different for someone else. Some of the words people have used to describe MS hugs are:
- Dull and achy.
- Pins and needles.
Regardless of what sensation it causes, an MS hug occurs somewhere between the neck and the waist. Many people feel it right under their ribcage. It’s called a hug because the feeling usually circles the body. Sometimes people describe it as “girdling.”
What Causes the MS Hug?
The cause of MS hugs is a lesion on the spinal cord. The lesion is there because the myelin sheath, which is the protective coating of nerves, is damaged. The symptom happens because the damaged nerves cause the intercostal muscles located between each rib to spasm. Experiencing MS hugs can be a sign that your older family member is going into a relapse phase.
How Can Seniors Cope with the MS Hug?
The first thing to do to cope with MS hugs is to report them to the older adult’s doctor. There are medications that can treat the symptom and lessen the pain when MS hugs are severe. In addition, there are steps you can take at home to relieve the discomfort, such as:
- Using a flat hand, gently apply pressure to the area of pain.
- Wrap the area or have the senior put on clothing that is tight around the affected area.
- Unless the hug came on because of cold, use an ice pack wrapped in a towel to soothe the pain.
- Take a warm bath or use a heating pad.
An elderly care provider can help your aging relative to cope with MS hugs. An elderly care provider can offer a gentle massage or use their hands to apply pressure to the affected area. Elderly care providers can also help the senior get into a warm bath or wrap the area. In addition, an elderly care provider can pay attention to what may have triggered the symptom, so the senior can avoid it in the future.
IF YOU OR AN AGING LOVED ONE IS CONSIDERING ELDERLY CARE IN LAS VEGAS, NV, PLEASE CONTACT THE CARING STAFF AT GOLDEN HEART SENIOR CARE OF SUMMERLIN. 702-800-4616.