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Life with MS: Where

Life with MS: Where’d That Bruise Come From!?

After a long day of work, my wife came home the other day and joined me and my trusty dog, Ferdinand,  on the couch.  As she began to tell me about her day, she paused mid-sentence, and with a shocked look, asked “What happened there?”, as she pointed at my knee.  Puzzled, I looked down and saw a large, reddish-purple bruise encompassing much of my right knee, to which I just shrugged my shoulders.  It might sound odd to many, but this is not the first time this has happened.  In fact, bruises, cuts, and other injuries appearing and not knowing how they got has become a pretty common occurrence in my life with Multiple Sclerosis.

Bruises are more common than I thought

For the longest time, I thought maybe I was the only one with MS that encountered this issue.  Recently, I spoke to some of my other friends that fight this disease, and discovered I am far from the only one.  It turns out that this can be pretty common for folks with MS.  Bumps, bruises, cuts, sores, and various other injuries that we don’t always remember the cause of appear often.  It was at least a little bit of a relief to know I wasn’t alone in this.  While not an explanation, I think we all found not only comfort, but some humor in the situation.  That may sound odd, but I guess compared to all of the other issues we encounter with this disease, it’s pretty minor.  If anything, I guess I like to think of my bruises as purple and red badges of courage, showing that I do take a beating most days and I survive it.  Rare visible wounds from my daily war with MS.

So what’s going on?  How are we all ending up bruised and battered?  Well, let’s face it, MS is a disease that has a huge effect on how we move.  With trouble moving parts of my body, weakness, numbness, foot drop, and spasms, I know I tend to not only fall a lot, but to bump into things too.  But wouldn’t you notice if you bumped into something hard enough to get a bruise?  Not necessarily, the right side of my body tends to be pretty numb a lot of the time. I may have recognized I walked into something, but might not notice the pain that comes along with that.  I then just go about what I’m doing because walking into things is a pretty common occurrence with MS.  There is almost no way around it with the the way we can tend to stumble about (that phrase “I’m not drunk, I have MS” is often such a good descriptor!).

How could you not notice?

You may say “but that had to hurt, how could you not notice?!”.  Well, aside from the numbness, many of us are used to a much more severe level of pain.  I know that my pain tolerance has skyrocketed over my years with MS.  So what might be super painful to most, really doesn’t seem like that big a deal to us.  That’s not a good thing either.  Pain is our body’s way of letting us know when something isn’t right.  Not being able to determine when we are injured may not sound too bad, but it can be dangerous.  I know I’ve sliced open my leg a few times and not noticed for hours, leaving me open to the possibility of an infection.  Those types of things are extra serious when you have a problem with your immune system, like we do.

While numbness and pain tolerance definitely contribute to not noticing injuries, I’m sure there are times I do notice, but because my short term memory is such a mess, I completely forget about it.  It doesn’t take much for me to forget.  I’ve had reverse moments of what I described in the opening, where I’ve said to my wife, “whoa, what happened here?” and she then reminds me that I had a bad fall earlier in the day.  “Don’t you remember?”, and I don’t, I have no idea.  Pretty scary when you realize that I am home without anyone else around most days.

As always, this is my perspective, but I’d like to hear yours.  Do you experience any mysterious (or non-mysterious) bumps, bruises, cuts, or anything else like this?  I’d love to hear your stories or tips or whatever you want to say.  As always, thanks so much for reading!

Devin

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The MultipleSclerosis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • mcknighm
    6 months ago

    I am always finding unexplained bruising on myself. This drives me crazy and so does MS☹️

  • Shelby Comito moderator
    6 months ago

    I hear you @mcknighm, just another one of MS’s many gifts… As you can see from others’ comments here, you are definitely not alone! – Shelby, MultipleSclerosis.net Team Member

  • StephNA311
    9 months ago

    THANK GOD THANK GOD!! I was just wondering about this exact same thing! I have a bruise covering my whole right calf now my ankle on the right side. I have built a really high level of pain tolerance but unexpected bruises I thought might be something that I have to deal with in this MS. What hurts ‘IN’ will eventually ‘APPEAR’ (this would kinda suck but now people would see this tiny white girl black/blue and purple and know I have what I do)

  • hack
    10 months ago

    I will attempt to send you some pictures taken through the years of my many bruises and scrapes on my hands and lower arms. I have resorted to wearing padded gloves to do housework! I have asked every doctor that I could about bruising so easily even a hematologist.
    They have all said it’s because of my age (68yrs) and my skin lacks collagen and is very thin!
    I never quite bought that explanation because I would see others older than me that didn’t have that problem! Thanks for your post because it confirms to me that my sweet MS is continuing to make its presence known!

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    10 months ago

    Thanks so much @hack, happy to hear it was helpful!

  • Fawsiya
    1 year ago

    Yes this is me, half the time I though I was hallucinating these bruises and cuts that would just appear out of nowhere.

  • Nurcindy3
    1 year ago

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. For years I’ve been dealing with cuts and bruises, most of which I cannot explain in detail. When asked about them, I simply say “I bump into things”. It’s the truth, take it or leave it!

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    1 year ago

    Thank you Nurcindy3! It’s something that I think happens to many of us, and we don’t even realize it!

  • TheBillLarson
    1 year ago

    I guess I fall under the category of thinking it isn’t as bad as it seems, yet the reality it is or even more. I was at a playground with my son and we were walking along the “curb” of the walkway ramp up to the play scape, balancing as we went. I lost my balance (no real surprise there but only being maybe 6 inches off the ground I wasn’t too worried) and fell off head first into the mulch like covering over the rubbery foam like surface of the playground that was underneath.

    One would figure it to have been no big deal. Maybe a skinned knee or something like that. Nope. My whole shin/calf looked more like I laid a motorcycle down than just fell headlong from less than 6 inches off the ground. I was stupified. It looked (and bled) far worse than I figured it would. It sure didn’t feel as bad as it looked!

    For me it just seems that everything is far worse than I feel it should be. What I would consider to likely cause a minor injury if any tends to cause a greater injury than expected. Kinda like in Monty Python when the knight (I believe it is a knight – it has been a LONG time since I have seen it, but the context is at least there) in being essentially dismembered yet saying “it’s merely a flesh wound’ while his arm has been detached at the shoulder.

  • Kiss19131
    1 year ago

    Devin thank you for this article because I didn’t know that this was a thing much less know it could be related to MS. I have a bruise now that I was staring at yesterday wondering how it got there. Its a really small bruise and I just couldn’t imagine what I bumped into to leave that. I wake up to bruises all of the time and for years now….now I have an inkling of how it got there.

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    1 year ago

    Thank you Kiss19131!

  • Lupe
    1 year ago

    Thank you for writing this article! I was diagnosed with MS a year ago. There are so many things that I have dealt with all of my life (55 years) and didn’t know why until I was diagnosed. One of these is suffering from bruises that I don’t know or remember where they came from. I never thought it was related to MS until I read this. Glad to see I’m not alone. I just thought I was clumsy, always bumping into walls and things like a pinball. Gives pinball wizard a whole new meaning. 🙂 This site has been a blessing for me assuring me that I am not alone and that it’s not the end of the world, just a new and different way of living it. Again, thank you!

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    1 year ago

    Thanks so much Lupe! I love the pinball analogy, I very much feel like that a lot!

  • TltMMT
    1 year ago

    I can so relate. When I got my diagnosis Jan 2017. I had fallen face first into the street from a curb, busted forehead, broken nose, broken radius bone in two, dislocated ulna bone, tore ligaments and tendons. Did not feel any pain until ER doctor was ready to stitch up my face, about 2 hours after the fall, I then asked for something for pain. I guess shock was wearing off. I too end up with bruises and cuts I can’t account for and my memory isn’t good either. People tell me I need to be wrapped in bubble wrap. If it wasn’t so hot, I might consider it. Lol!

  • Lori
    2 years ago

    Devin I live by myself and several times I’ve had sores and they get infected. I don’t even feel the sore or how I get it so my doctor and I have to guess. I now check myself when I shower if I have any scratches, bruises, or sores. I right now have something on the bottom of my foot. I don’t know if it was a blister, if I got a splinter, or what it is because It’s perfectly round. You’re right I don’t feel anything. I’ve hit the top of my hand on the oven rack. My skin had a horrible burn and I didn’t even feel it, however I have scars from them. I will admit it is kind of nice not to have that pain I had before I had MS. I just have to look at myself all the time because I fall and run into things as well.

  • Lori
    2 years ago

    Devin I live by myself and several times I’ve had sores and they get infected. I don’t even feel the sore or how I get it so my doctor and I have to guess. I now check myself when I shower if I have any scratches, bruises, or sores. I right now have something on the bottom of my foot. I don’t know if it was a blister, if I got a splinter, or what it is because It’s perfectly round. You’re right I don’t feel anything. I’ve hit the top of my hand on the oven rack. My skin had a horrible burn and I didn’t even feel it, however I have scars from them. I will admit it is kind of nice not to have that pain I had before I had MS. I just have to look at myself all the time because I fall and run into things as well.

  • Janice
    2 years ago

    Cuts and bruises don’t seem as big anymore since I fell through my attic floor to my garage floor and broke my back, my femur, ribs and collar bone. I don’t know how it happened are remember much about the whole experience thank goodness. Sometimes not remembering is a good thing. I had to learn to walk again but I still have problems because I have had to adjust to doing a lot of routine things. The biggest thing I learned from this is “it can happen to me” and I am learning to think before I do things.

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    2 years ago

    Thank you for sharing Janice! I’m so sorry to hear! Many of us, myself included, don’t always think about just how dangerous falls can be. My doctor constantly gets on me about being more careful.

  • Trnlpn
    2 years ago

    I have bruised easy since I was young. In fact I’ve went so far as to tell my husband that when my mind completely goes these are the people to contact to verify my easy bruising and I am not being abused.. I have had people react like that to me and my bruising. Mine can come from almost nothing. poking my arm to many times to get my attention, my son left a small circle bruise on my arm. All testing comes back normal.. I’ve adjusted by wearing long sleeves (not hard I freeze most the time too).

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    2 years ago

    Thank you for sharing Trnlpn. That’s very interesting. I hope that, even though you bruise easily, that it doesn’t hurt too much.

  • Karen
    2 years ago

    Oh how well I can relate to this.! I am always getting bruises after barely touching something. The worse part is that some of them never completely fade away. I have permanent dark areas on my arms. I know as we age our skin gets thinner but mine is like paper & scratches & bleeds so easily.

  • Susan Elizabeth
    2 years ago

    I am at the point that I fall everyday. Sometimes it’s more like melting and I’ve gotten good at grabbing sturdy objects so I can try to avoid a total face plant. I’ve fallen several times recently on the kitchen tile floor, scares the crap out of me.

    Bruises, I look like I must be deflecting punches. Or kicking a lot of crud with my shins. I agree, between numbness and high tolerance to pain, who remembers bumping around…especially if you made it to where you were going in the first place!

    My pet-peeve: medical professionals as a standard asking if I’ve fallen in the last 3-6 months. I can barely be nice about anymore. %*&#^@*$!!

  • spacity102
    2 years ago

    I, too, am always falling. Right now i have a huge bruise on my right bicep that I can’t explain when or how I got it. 2 1/2 months ago I fell and got the toes on my right foot tangled in the wheels on my rollator. I had x-rays to make sure I hadn’t broken anything and was told I had sprained two areas of my foot. A couple of days later I fell again and broke 2 toes on the same foot. It has caused more misery than I could have imagined. It still swells. My toes are splayed in different directions. It sure makes life interesting!

  • 1weclbc
    2 years ago

    I always have mysterious bruising, not a day goes by without somebody saying, where did you get that bruise? Especially now in the summer when I am wearing short sleeves and capri shorts a lot. LOL

  • Chyler
    2 years ago

    Wow. So many things….I am always bruised from running into to things. Last week I fell down my stairs. My memory is truly worrisome. Some days I wonder if I have Alzheimer’s. I know its just MS but those around are astounded sometimes.
    Thanks for the article. I can relate.

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    2 years ago

    Thank you Chyler! Memory issues are a big problem for me too. I talk about them a little bit more in this post, in case you are interested: https://multiplesclerosis.net/living-with-ms/my-cognitive-changes-because-of-multiple-sclerosis/

  • bugzbetty
    2 years ago

    Good article. Bruises limit my wearing shorts in summer:-(

  • Nurcindy3
    1 year ago

    Me too! I have adopted Capri length leggings into my wardrobe!

  • Brittney Kean
    2 years ago

    I was at an MS Retreat. I went to bed without a bruised, stubbed toe. I woke up with one. I have no idea what happened. Although, my sleepwalking has gotten worse since my MS diagnosis.

  • Cathy
    2 years ago

    Yes I get the bruising also. My upper arms have bruises because I bounce off the walls in my house! I should be using my walker but sometimes I leave it in another room and have to walk around the house to find it. Two days ago there was a huge bruise on my left knee. I don’t remember falling so I have no idea when I banged it. Another “perk” from MS!

  • cecilia101
    2 years ago

    I stubbed my toes pretty badly, and felt nothing. My husband said “Why are you bleeding like that?”

  • CatDancer
    2 years ago

    Yes! Thanks for posting this. Recently, a part of my left leg became to the touch and I couldn’t figure out why; thought I was developing weird vascular issues, but my doc checked it out and said my pulses were fine. This sheds some light for me.

  • potter
    2 years ago

    I have noticed lately that I have more bruises than usual, what bothers me the most I don’t remember anything that I did that could of caused the bruise. I think I am bruising more easily, I am hoping that is why I can’t think of a reason for it. Potter

  • gmc
    2 years ago

    I often tell my husband to remind me when I ask how that mishap occurred. He usually can’t help me when I ask. I have tried to pay better attention and door frames seem to be my biggest nemesis; however my current black eye is from ringing my bell by falling in the bathroom and hitting my temple on the toilet.

  • DVORA
    2 years ago

    OFTEN I AM BRUISED WITHOUT BEING AWARE — OR MUCH MORE INJURED THAN I THOUGHT —
    MOST OF WHAT YOU POST SEEMS TO BE ABOUT MY LIFE — YOUR POSTS HELP ME GREATLY —
    THANK YOU FOR THE TIME AND ENERGY YOU SO GENEROUSLY GIVE TO ALL OF US — I AM PLEASED TO HAVE FOUND THIS GROUP—– BE SAFE ….. DVORA

  • mentoria
    2 years ago

    Yes! This is so me. It drives my husband crazy. He will often look at me and ask, “How did you get that?!” or “Where did THAT come from?” More times than not, I have no idea how bruises appear on my body. I have a habit of slamming into things like walls, towel racks, my desk. My arms and legs almost never have bruises. It’s the nature of the beast, I guess. We’re just waiting for that full-body bubble wrap to be a thing.

  • dahl7651
    2 years ago

    I also have bruises, especially my upper arms, HUGE purple ones. They also take their sweet time going away.
    I guess I’m lucky I don’t know how it got there, one less pain to deal with.

  • RosemaryC.
    2 years ago

    You are so right about the bruises. I think every inch of my body has been bruised at some point in time. My husband asks me to wear long sleeves so he does not accused of abusing me. And because I fall so frequently, I honestly cannot remember how I got many of them. Thanks for your article. It is good to know that I am not the only one experiencing this.

  • teddy s.
    2 years ago

    Devin,

    I can’t personally relate to this, but while I was a caregiver, I would often pick up Tracey and hear mysterious cracking noises. Most of the time it was just her knee or hip joints, but when her doctor ordered X-rays, they found over a dozen small fractures in her right thigh. Some were old and had partially healed, but some were new. She never felt a thing. About seven months ago, another X-ray found a fracture in her spine. Once again, she never felt a thing. We went against the doctor’s advice and chose not to undergo surgery. In retrospect, the right decision.

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    2 years ago

    Thanks so much for sharing that Teddy, that’s could be pretty useful info for some folks out there.

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