Neuropathic pain, sometimes labeled chronic pain, is pain sensation that isn’t necessarily related to a specific condition or injury. It can be viewed as the pain sensors in our nervous system sending pain signals erroneously — that is, making us feel pain when there’s not an obvious cause, like a burn, cut, or broken bone.
Neuropathic pain is responsible for the infamous “MS Hug,” a collection of symptoms often experienced by MS patients. The MS Hug can manifest differently among different people, but is most often described as a feeling in the chest, under the rib cage, or elsewhere in the torso, with a wide range of symptoms including:
- Dull pain or achiness
- Pressure or tightness
- Burning sensations
- Tingling or “pins and needles”
- Difficulty breathing
The MS Hug can be an indication of an active MS exacerbation, therefore if you experience such symptoms frequently or severely, you should contact your MS provider. In severe cases, it can mimic some signs of heart attack, so it’s important to rule out that possibility by seeking appropriate medical care.
The MS Hug is typically brought on by similar triggers than can cause other MS symptoms to flare-up. To stave off the MS Hug, patients should take care to avoid stress, try not to become over-fatigued, and keep cool in hot weather or hot environments. It can also be brought on if your body is fighting off another illness, like a cold or the flu.