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Selfie of Chloe Metson wearing a turquoise top

Unusual symptoms: MS hug and Lhermitte's sign

tingly mum

Our community blogger Chloe talks about her experience of unusual MS symptoms, and how she manages them.

So Christmas is well and truly over. Merriment was had by all. I have had too many Christmas tipples (which I really shouldn't do) and eaten my weight in chocolate (which I really REALLY shouldn't do considering what it does to my health - tingles ahoy!). And alas the whole festive period came back to bite me on my expanding bottom.

I had fun for sure, but the over-tiredness and over-indulgence was just too much for me. So the 'cheeriest' of all MS symptoms flared up – the good old MS hug.

Everyone loves a hug, right?

No! I don't. It's awful!

This creepy symptom has been becoming more frequent the more tired I get, and I had two humdingers over the Christmas period. 

What is the MS hug? 

The MS hug is caused by a tightening of the intercostal muscles around the rib cage, so you feel as though you have a tight band around your chest.

It's massively uncomfortable and, for me, usually happens at night, making it hard to sleep. It feels like a stitch high up on both sides, coupled with a band of back pain. It makes breathing uncomfortable, and has been so nasty the last two times that I've vomited.

After the most recent hug, I just couldn't get out of bed and slept for nearly a whole day. It’s a horrible symptom to have, but luckily one that doesn’t occur that often for me.

How I manage the MS hug

This is how I deal with it. Firstly I like to create pressure around my ribs by wrapping a light scarf around me, or holding my rib cage with my hands. I know this sounds absolutely mad, but for some reason, adding extra pressure tricks the brain into accepting the pain and uncomfortable feeling more. If the hug sensation is more around your head - wear a hat. 

Alternatively, you might prefer to wear loose fitting clothing - it’s whatever you find comfortable. I also like to stretch as much as possible, and try to relax. A warm bath might help for the pain, as well as other over-the-counter painkillers.  

My experience of LHermitte’s sign

Writing about the MS hug has got me thinking about the other strange symptoms I’ve had before, like Lhermitte’s sign

This is like a flash of lightning when you tilt your head that goes down your spine. It tingles, and kind of hurts, and is quite alarming the first time you have it. The last time I had it as a continuous symptom was when I had a relapse. But it can just flare up when you’re tired or have overdone it. 

Everyone with MS is different, and can experience different symptoms at different times. There are certainly some odd ones that go along with the more standard symptoms. But if you are ever worried about a symptom, or unsure about anything, always get in touch with your GP or MS healthcare team. They’re great for advice and reassurance.

For more MS tales from Chloe (aka Tinglymum), you can visit her blog at