Inked Up: MS & Tattoos

Scrolling through some social media, I noticed a pretty cool trend among the multiple sclerosis community: that of getting MS-related tattoos! I’ve seen all kinds, from orange ribbons to catchy slogans, and even MSiversary dates. While getting tattoos certainly isn’t for everyone, for those who are into it, it can be a great way of asserting some power over the disease, which can be pretty therapeutic for many people. For others, it’s a great way of raising awareness.

My first tattoo commemorated my dog, Penny

I confess, I don’t have an MS-related tattoo. At least, not yet anyway. I always thought, if I were to ever get a tattoo, it’d be a simple one of my MSiversary date (a day that is pretty special to me). I do have a few tattoos, while they aren’t MS-related, my illness certainly played a part in them. I didn’t get my first until a few years ago, when my dog Penny passed away. She was a pretty instrumental part of my life with MS, and I needed a way to commemorate her, so I got her paw print on my arm (and have since added the pawprints of other dogs I’ve had).

Using tattoos to feel in control of my pain

In addition to honoring Penny, I was looking for another way to get a hold on my pain issues. As I’ve written about in the past, I developed some terrible habits while trying to feel in control of my pain. Getting a tattoo was a type of pain I had control of, something that I caused on my own, and that felt pretty good (though if you’ve dealt with pain from MS, getting a tattoo is nothing compared to that).

MS tattoos can make some feel empowered

As I enjoyed the control of the slight pain from the tattoo, others take pleasure in the control a tattoo gives them over their illness. Looking down and seeing something commemorate your illness is a great reminder that you are still in control. Whether the tattoo itself says something to remind you of that or just the fact that you intentionally had it done, seeing some ink about your illness can give you a great little boost when you are feeling down. A tattoo is a permanent and visible reminder of the control you have over your life, which is extremely helpful when you have a disease that can make you feel anything but in control.

MS tattoos can help raise awareness

Let’s face it, some people get some pretty noticeable tattoos, ones that beg to be seen. This is a great way that some folks raise awareness as well as show unity with their loved ones. Some of the best MS-related tattoos I’ve encountered have actually been on the loved ones of those with MS, not on the person with the illness. That’s a pretty touching thing to do for someone and helps raise awareness. A well done orange ribbon (orange is our color folks!) is a great way to spark conversation when people ask what the tattoo is about (this type of ink is like creating a walking awareness campaign)!

Tattoos are very personal

There are a variety of reasons why people get MS-related tattoos. Whether they are small and visible only to the owner or large and in a spot for all to see, these ink masterpieces are deeply personal and signify that someone is fighting for their life. If you or someone you know has an MS-related tattoo, hit up the comments and tell us or even show us!

Note: Tattoos are considered safe for those with MS. If you have any concerns, check with your doctor. You should take the same precautions you would if you didn’t have MS. Make sure that the place you get one is reputable and clean, with sterile equipment.

Thanks so much for reading and always feel free to share!


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