The MS Hug – Our community shares their experiences


MS is associated with a whole host of common symptoms, like numbness and tingling, vision problems, weakness, cognitive deficits, among many others. But then there are symptoms that are less “text book,” and therefore not as well defined. One such symptom is the MS Hug. Cathy Chester, one of the contributors and patient advocates who writes regularly for, wrote a wonderful article describing the MS hug, including her own personal experience with this frustrating symptom. It turns out that many of our community members also deal with the MS Hug on a regular basis, and many of them shared their thoughts with us in response to Cathy’s article. Here’s what our community had to say:

I didn’t know what an MS Hug was the first time I had one

  • I’ve had it happen a few times. The first time I went to the emergency room because I thought I was having a heart attack.
  • I had one LONG before I was diagnosed, after the birth of my child. I only recently read about it and realized what it actually was!
  • I have had two – one before I was diagnosed. I took an ambulance ride I thought I was having a heart attack. I then had one about a month ago. It hurt so badly it felt like my lungs were being squeezed.
  • I had my first MS attack when I was 12 weeks pregnant I thought I was having a heart attack couldn’t even lift my left arm up.
  • I’ve experienced the MS hug 3 times in 3 years. It’s a scary feeling. I felt like my entire body was in a vice. I don’t ever want to experience one again, not sure what brought it on. I thought I was having a heart attack, but thankfully that wasn’t the case.
  • I can’t believe this. I just recently, as in yesterday, started having this “hug” pain and wasn’t sure if I pulled a muscle or if it was another wonderful MS “thing” that I was experiencing…thank goodness I came across this.

I find ways to cope with an MS Hug

  • I do adaptive yoga for MS (Yoga Moves MS). They have taught us a banana stretch lying flat on our backs. I do this every day. I use to have the hugs several times a day, but now maybe once a month if at all.
  • I can feel it coming on, so I just have to relax and ride it out! It can take 48 hours or more.

I really struggle with MS Hugs

  • These are the worst ever hugs; I wish that they would never happen to us.
  • I get a quarter hug – just the front on one side – usually the left. That’s enough for me. I don’t like it at all!
  • It’s more like the MS python!
  • It’s the worse hug in the world. I don’t want another at all.
  • I get them sometimes, I think it’s like a big snake wrapping itself around me and squeezing tight! It isn’t very pleasant at all!
  • When I get over-tired, I get squeezed.
  • They are horrible – it’s painful and hard to breathe. Those are the kind of hugs I can do without!!!
  • I had one recently during a relapse…no fun!
  • I take Flexeril almost daily and it still hurts. I also was glad to come across this very thing a couple weeks ago too!
  • It isn’t fun at all, since you never know when it’s going to hit.
  • Hugs are supposed to be nice. This is more like a vice.
  • I call it the death grip because it felt like a boa constrictor was squeezing me for almost 3 days.

People who don’t have MS don’t understand what it’s like

  • I stopped telling anybody about the hugs and any other issues or pain. Nobody understands unless they have experienced it. My husband says, “just work through it!!” For everything. Really?
  • My husband doesn’t get it. When I am going through a 24 hour fatigue he says I get tired to I just don’t sleep like you do I just deal with it. Ugh! It’s just not worth an argument

Even my doctors don’t know what an MS hug is

  • The first MS hug I’ve ever had I thought it was a heart attack. The hospital checked me out and I was fine. My Neurologist said that it was a MS hug, like I would know this. The doctor at the hospital did not know this. Go figure.
  • My doctors don’t even know what it is, like usual with my symptoms they say its not related.
  • Had one of these 5 years ago and I was rushed to hospital with a suspected heart attack, as the medical staff had never heard of an MS Hug!

How about you? Have you ever had an MS Hug? What have you done to find relief? Share with us in the comments!



  • Michele Cates says:

    I have had MS since 1994. I never knew what an MS Hug is. From what I have seen on this sight, I am so sorry to hear about them.
    Another way for MS to make us victims. Grrrr !

  • scott davidson says:

    have gotten my 1st hug. feels like im being jumped on. was diagnosed in 94. avonex then moved to aubagio a few months ago. gonna try this banana pose yoga thing. hopin relief comes. thought i pulled something or a heart attack but it does stretch for relief. hoping this yoga pose does it better as other poses have for my legs

  • Marilyn Haney says:

    I am 80 years old and I do not have MS, but I have had the “hug”. First was in June, 2017, followed by 3 more almost a month to the day apart. Then nothing till Dec 2, 2018 and Dec 29, 2018. They have all lasted for different amounts of time, the longest one was 16 minutes.
    One coincident is that both 2017 and 2018 I was going through a reaction from an antibiotic with rash from neck to knees. Strange??

    • Angel Blair says:

      Thank you for reaching out, Marilyn, I’m sorry to hear you’ve experienced the hug symptom issues. That does sound coincidental that you’ve had the experiences through antibiotic reactions, is this something you’ve discussed with your doctor? Hopefully they can help connect the dots and determine what the cause of this could have been. I hope you’re feeling better and if you have any additional questions please feel free to email Thank you for reaching out and take care. Angel, MSAA Client Services Specialist

  • Bonnie Barber says:

    I have had an MS “hug” 24/7 since 2008, diagnosed with MS in 2000, after first being diagnosed with Transverse Myelitis. The first month it was sporadic, then it became a constant condition. It is the worst symptom I’ve experienced from MS. After reading Dr. Wahl’s Minding My Mitochondria, I went on a vegetarian KETO way of eating two years ago and reduced my visceral fat to the lowest possible levels and that seems to make it less debilitating, although it never goes away – certain things trigger a serious exacerbation. I’ve never been heavy, but now I’m REALLY thin. Unfortunately, Solumedrol is totally ineffective for me. I’ve also found that SUGAR (grain, fruit, starch – corn, etc.) makes it much worse. I only take muscle relaxers for the spasms, since there is no real treatment for CPMS and I am extremely sensitive to chemicals. This is just a brief description to respond to this article, but I’m sure others with this condition can relate to all the profound symptoms that accompany this miserable ‘feature’ of MS. My Neuro told me that he’s recently had a lot of patients who are experiencing MS Hug when he had gone several years without anyone else reporting it.

  • Lisa Morris says:

    I have been having the MS hug about 75 percent of the time for 2 years. I didn’t know what it was either. My Dr. said it was anxiety or Fibromyalgia or just a part of the autonomic dysfunction that I have. I finally got tired of this and felt like there’s more to it. I found a neurologist who ordered me MRI. I have 2 suspicious lesions in the brain. Now I have to get another MRI for my spine and a spinal tap to confirm or rule out MS.
    One thing for sure is I’m tired of always being squeezed around my upper abdomen and my ribs. I hope my Dr will let me try some steroid or baclifen or low dose naltrexone.. And I hope it helps. not fun.. feels like something standing on my solar plexus all the time.

    • Angel Blair says:

      Thank you for reaching out, Lisa. I’m sorry for the challenges you’ve been experiencing and I hope your doctor is able to determine the cause of your symptom issues soon. Like you said, hopefully they can develop a treatment plan to help manage these in the meantime to help alleviate this. I wish you the best of luck with your care and if you have other questions please feel free to email or you can communicate with others living with MS on the MSAA’s online peer support forum called My MSAA Community, Take care, Angel, MSAA Client Services Specialist

  • Leave a Comment



     SPAM PROTECTION: Sum of 3 + 4 ?