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Readers Respond: What helps you deal with the "MS hug?"

Responses: 226


Updated October 12, 2008

ms hug?

This is no hug but More like someone is trying to snap my ribs and especially trying to break/crush my sternum at the very bottom. This scares me because I imagine those fractured bones could puncture my lungs. I do realistically know my ribs won't break but the panic the hug brings with it is not logical either. I wish baclofen would make it go away completely but it hasn't. I don't know what to do. I have this all day. It seems to be affecting my posture. I don't really stand up very straight anymore. Does anyone else have this problem?
—Guest justine

New to MS at 65..want to date

I am divorced after a 38 year marriage I live in NJ. My children live in Pitts. I have 2 beautiful grandchildren. I am walking but not driving for now. Jordan - a beautiful man 609 332 5578 sunshineross@yahoo.com
—Guest Jordan

ms hug

I have had ms for 7 years and the ms hug has been a part of my life from the beginning . I have managed the ms on my own but now that it has progressed o am seeking to get disability and will get some help soon . The strangest thing about the hug is it occurs every other day like clock work . Does anybody else have the hug every other day ?
—Guest debra

Ms hug

I was diagnosed in 1979 and had very few flares until I moved to Florida 3 years ago. For the last 3 years I have had symptoms that were always attributed to something else until this year. For the last 6 months I have what I think is ms hug. It does not hurt but I cannot breathe and my esophagus spasms so I can't swallow - makes me panic when I can't swallow saliva! I little spray of sore throat medicine numbs my throat so I can swallow. I dont have pain with hug, just tightness around lower rib cage so I feel I can't breathe! Very scary. It gets worse as day goes by. Any physical activity makes it worse. Only resting lying down helps. My neuro does not think it is ms hug and wants me to see a lung specialist - I don't need another co-pay to find out that I don't have asthma or reflux. I don't know what to do, I can't spend my life in bed. I am taking copaxone for last 4 months but does not help this 5 month long exacerbation. Any suggestions?

MS aint for sissies

Diagnosed with RRMS IN 1999, I have had exacerbation's every couple of years which all seemed to stay localized, my left leg, hip and foot...fatigue is my worse issue--until now...MS Hug, really? Sick & twisted name but the pain is almost unbearable...it brings me to tears when it pops up. Can't breath, feels like an elephant is sitting on my rib cage. Xanax seems to help but that is probably just taking care of the stress surrounding the pain.
—Guest DawnA


I have experienced this pain for months now. Had a round of MS symptoms back in January and was given an MRI on my brain and neck. No lesions were found. Tomorrow I go in for another MRI this time on my spine. Today I googled " hugging pain" and found this website. In a way it made me feel better to know I wasn't crazy but then it scared the crap out of me. I have not been diagnosed with MS yet. The fear is unreal.
—Guest slynn

Better Living with Chemistry

I first experienced the "hug" while serving on a deployed ship, supervising the operation of the nuclear reactor. The pain was so bad that it doubled me over and I had to be assisted out of the engineroom. This continued off and on for years, never going away but varying in intensity. I saw every type of doctor the military had available. I can say this because the ships Dr was trained as a OBG/GYN. i was admitted to the hospital several times to run batteries of tests. MS came up in the discussion, but I was told that I couldn't have it because of the excrutiatng pain I was in. This was back in 1985 and MRI's were not yet around. My spinal taps were either pos for MS or contaminated because it was the residents first try. I was a pincoushion. I went to the pain clinic every couple of weeks and they would run a catheter into my chest and pump in anesthesia. this killed all sensation on the left side of my body and felt great. It would wear off in a week. Still have it...
—Guest Bryan

Supportive Garments

I once described this feeling to a physical therapist as "Wearing a tight corset that I can't take off." My squeeze is right at my natural waistline and maybe 3 inches, all the way around. I've actually found that it helps to actually wear a tight body shaper - instead of having 3 inches of super tight right up against normal, I have 3 inches of super-tight next to "still pretty tight." There's less contrast between the sensations so it's not as noticeable. Also, I think it fools my brain into thinking there's a reason I feel the tightness and it's in my control. Just don't tell my brain that it doesn't go away when I take the body shaper off.
—Guest Tina

Pain, pain GO AWAY!!!

I experience MS hugs quite frequently. I was diagnosed with MS in 2010. I am learning new things about this disease everyday! I first learned that I had MS when I was diagnosed with optic neuritis. The worst attack that I experience is the MS hug. I wake up in the middle of the night with severe back pain, pains in my chest and uncomfortable laying down on my stomach or back. I have found that certain things that I eat trigger the pain. I add new foods to this list every time I have an attack. I have learned how to manage the pain, but all you want is the pain to go away!!!! I hope that my MS gets more controllable. Good luck to everyone and remember to breathe during these attacks! Deep breaths in and out always seem to help!
—Guest Lindsey

Non-MS hug

I don't have MS, but I have had the same hug since my spinal cord injury. I also have a similar squeeze in my feet, and I noticed when my feet get cold the squeeze is worse. Heat seems to help a little bit when the hug-squeeze starts to get unbearable... It at least makes it tolerable.
—Guest Tina


Trigger point therapy administered by my massage therapist usually helps a lot; the therapist also taught me how to do it. He releases the muscle spasms by finding the sorest places and pressing on them until I sigh which indicates a release of the spasm, then presses deeper until that particular spasm feels better. I think that stress may sometimes trigger it because a beloved family member has recently been very sick and two beloved friends recently died. I have also used homeopathic remedies prescribed by a homeopath. It feels like a very tight huge belt is wrapped extremely tightly around my middle and constricts my breathing to the point I recently went to the ER and was hospitalized for tests. They suggested I see the MS doctor who did not prescribe anything for me. So that is why I am on this site since the trigger point therapy has not yet kicked in. For me it can be very frightening.
—Guest Tricia

MS Hug

I don't have MS, but I'm searching for reasons (help) with this band of pain around my chest. I thought maybe a rib was wacked out of place and I've tried yoga stretching, heating pads, icy hot, asprin, hot showers which all help temporarily then I get an excursiating sharp pain like a muscle spasms and it starts all over again. I end up taking my bra off to ease the pain. The band around my chest also expands down my back into my hips makes it hard to get up and walk. I'm an active, healthy female 64 and have been experiencing this for the last 2 mos. I hate to visit doctors , but guess I'll have to take that step. Soft hugs to all.
—Guest wethree11

MS Hug

I was dx with fibromyalgia in 1997. I have experienced that 'hug'. It started in 1994 and left after a few attacks thst sent me to the ER. It came back with a vengeance in 2008. Xanax seems to help. The 'hug' starts under my right rib like someone has their fist in my guts and goes all around my mid area and back. It's as if someone is trying to hug me to death. It started around my waist in the past but has gravitated more to my ribs and chest. I also sometimes have this sensation of feeling a cool menthol taking over my body. It begins in my legs and moves up to my neck. I'm nurse and have wondered if I was misdiagnosed on fibro. I'd like to hear from someone. My state is Ohio. Thanks!
—Guest Diane Myers

Ripping constricting pain

My MS hug has been with me 14 years. It comes and goes. When it comes it can be precipitated by stress. It usually stays around for days till up until a few weeks. It is very painful and feels like it is ripping my ribs. Stress management is key. However I can still get it when there is no stress. Actively filling my lungs to the very bottom helps if anxiety is starting. When it is hard to breath it is very disconcerting. Bacoflen does not help. Valium(diazepam) helps but I don't want to take it due to addictive qualities. My pain originated on my left side and had a pulling up/constricting feeling. Now it is centered and at lower rib level. Breathing can get tough when it constricts a lot. So far only only valium is the only thing that helps. Otherwise time has to heal this wound.
—Guest John Phillips

i feel like a mummy

I first thought maybe this is just back pain. I can feel my waist start to tighten up an it spread up my back until I can't hardly breath and down to the top of my thighs until they are numb. I feel like I can't bend the pain is off the chart, I am afraid now to walk because that seems to worsen it.
—Guest Gina

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