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MS Hug

Hello - I've had MS for 24 years but am experiencing a new symptom (maybe) that confuses me. I feel pressure and tightness across my chest. I've known about the MS Hug but thought that was a sensation across the stomach and so I initially assumed I was having a cardiac problem.

After emailing my neurologist and seeing my primary care doctor (who conducted an EKG in May when I felt the same problem), they both are pointing to MS as the culprit. Most of my lesions are in my thoracic spine so this does fit my profile.

Online I am reading that the sensation usually lasts seconds or minutes or maybe a few hours, but what I'm feeling has lasted a few days at this point. I do think gabapentin provided short-term relief.

This whole thing is concerning to me as I have a family history of cardiac issues so I want to be sure I am treating this symptom appropriately. I've been to a cardiologist in the past and it was a full day of testing so I'd rather skip that if possible.

Can anybody relate to this or tell me their experience with the MS Hug? Thanks so much in advance!

  1. Hi, ! First, I am sorry you are experiencing this symptom. I do hope you get some feedback from other community members. I can tell you that some of our community members have experienced MS Hugs that last for significant amounts of time (days). While not as common as hugs of a shorter duration, it does occur.

    That said, I think you are wise to keep your family history of cardiac issues in mind. I think continuing to follow up with your physician makes sense. And the two of you can decide whether a full cardiac work up or a referral to a specialist is necessary. I know the tests can be a pain, so I hope it doesn't come to that, but it makes sense to play it safe.

    I bet you have already looked around the site and read up on the MS hug, but I wanted to share two pieces with you. This one is from one of our contributors on her experience with MS Hugs -- Also, this is another piece about one contributor's experience, but check out the many comments (over 100!) from the community at the end of the piece --

    It sounds like you are being as proactive as possible with this issue and I hope (?) it turns out to be the hug or another, fixable issue and not a cardiac issue (although that seems like a really weird thing to type -- I normally don't wish MS symptoms on anyone!). Maybe some of the member comments from one of the articles will give you some tips to try.

    Thanks for sharing and I hope the MS hug goes away very soon and doesn't come back!

    Best, Erin, Team Member

    1. Thanks so much for this response . I read the two pieces you mentioned and they were extremely helpful. The truth is I don't want it to be cardiac or MS (I just want it to go away!) but it does indeed sound like what other MSers describe. I'll stay on it and follow some of the suggestions people mentioned. Thank you again very much!

      1. Anytime! We're so glad the pieces resonated and were helpful! 🧡 Kayleigh, team

    2. I can relate. Heart disease runs rampant in my family. The hug is awful! I've had some as long as 24 hours and know people who have it perpetually (ugh, can you imagine?) I generally treat with baclofen/Advil combination on an as-needed basis. I've heard people using gabapentin for it as well. If you're concerned, why not bring it up with your MS specialist? There's more than one way to get relief for the hug, you may as well be trying those options that are least likely to mess with any cardiac issues. Good luck! Best wishes, Tamara, community advocate

      1. Thanks all. I've been in touch with my neurologist and have scheduled an MRI for next week. So, as much as I hate this stuff, I'm on it. We'll see where this goes. Thanks again for your help!

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