MS Symptoms: When Things Get Just Plain Weird
Last updated: March 2023
March is MS Awareness Month and each week we've been focusing on a different MS symptom. Pain was our symptom spotlight for Week #1. For Week #2, we focused on mobility and balance issues. Last week was also Brain Awareness Week, and we discussed the cognitive issues and fatigue that many people with MS experience. For the fourth and final week of MS Awareness Month, we're talking about some of the many MS symptoms that are just plain weird.
Many people in the MS community have described feeling an uncontrollable itching sensation that feels like bugs crawling all over their skin. Whether it's on the face or the bottoms of the feet, the itch can be intense, sporadic, and drive one absolutely nuts! Check out this comic from our advocate Brooke that helps illustrate this frustrating symptom.
Have you ever experienced uncontrollable itching?
Sensory overload can happen frequently for people with MS, and one sense in particular that MS loves to "overload" is sound. If you've ever felt like all the muscles in your torso suddenly and involuntarily contract (similar to a sleep start, where you’re falling asleep and then you suddenly feel like you’re actually falling and your body "jumps" awake), this is called stimulus-sensitive myoclonus, and people with MS can experience these jolts with normal volumes of noise.
Tinnitus, or ear ringing, is another sound sensitivity and although it's a rare occurrence for people with MS, it does happen and can really disrupt one's ability to hear and sleep. Read more about tinnitus, myoclonus, and other sound sensitivities with MS.
Do you experience myoclonus, tinnitus, or other sensitivities to sound due to MS?
The MS hug
One weird symptom that is more well-known in the world of multiple sclerosis is the dreaded MS hug. Essentially the MS hug is a painful sensation around the waist, stomach, and rib cage area that feels like intense squeezing and crushing. For some, it feels like an annoying, uncomfortable pressure, while for others, it can be excruciatingly painful. Learn more about how to manage the MS hug.
Have you experienced the "MS Hug"?
Sensations of wetness
Have you ever felt a sensation of wetness on your limbs or arms? You are not alone. This is one of those symptoms that people in the community often feel crazy to initially admit, only to learn that they're actually in very good company. Whether it's feeling like your legs are soaking wet or water is dripping down your skin, it's an extremely weird sensation that many people with MS have experienced. Learn more about this and other similarly weird sensations.
Ever felt a sensation of wetness in your limbs?
Dizziness and vertigo
Another not so well known symptom of multiple sclerosis is dizziness and vertigo. Feeling dizzy and off-balance can actually be quite common for those with MS, and when paired with foot drop and coordination issues, it's all the more understandable why falls can consistently occur for people with MS.
Vertigo feels like the world is spinning around you and won't stop. Although it's a little less common, it can make every aspect of life extremely difficult to cope with. Read about our advocate Devin's experience with vertigo.
Do you experience dizziness or vertigo?
Lhermitte’s sign, also known as barber chair phenomenon, is an electrical sensation that travels down the spine when the neck bends or tilts forward. A type of paroxysmal symptom, this symptom is not only painful, but it also can feel extremely shocking – literally! Like most MS symptoms, Lhermitte's sign can come and go or hang around indefinitely. Read more about Lhermitte's sign and other paroxysmal symptoms unique to MS.
Have you experienced Lhermitte’s Sign (an electric shock sensation when the neck is tilted down)?
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