It lasts just a few seconds, but it can be startling: An intense burst of pain like an electric shock that runs down your back into your arms and legs when you move your neck. It’s called Lhermitte’s sign, or barber chair sign, and it’s often one of the symptoms that people mention when they’re first diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
The problem can be painful, but it’s not life-threatening. With time or with treatment, some people stop having Lhermitte’s sign.
There are a few versions that affect people with MS:
Urinary urgency means you feel the need to pee often and urgently. The small "tickle" and feeling of pressure that help us know it’s time to head to the restroom are intense.
Incontinence is the loss of bladder control. Sometimes MS will disrupt the nerve signals that direct the movement of urine in your body so that it comes out when you’re not ready.
Nocturia means you have to get up a lot during the night to go to the bathroom.
Urinary hesitancy is when you have trouble starting to pee.
Bladder Control Treatments in MS
A bladder problem is more than an inconvenience. If you don’t get treatment, it can turn into other health issues, including bladder infections, kidney damage, and hygiene problems. It also can keep you from doing the things you’d normally do and make you feel isolated.
Talk to your doctor if you notice any changes in when and how often you’re going to the bathroom. She might recommend that you see a doctor who specializes in bladder problems, called a urologist. She might also talk to you about some things you can do on your own:
Diet changes. One way to start is to change the liquid you put in your body every day. Your doctor may recommend that you:
Drink no more than 2 quarts of liquids a day
Steer clear of drinks with caffeine, such as coffee, tea, and sodas
Bladder training aims to let you go longer between your trips to the bathroom. You start by setting a schedule for when you’ll pee. Then you train yourself to resist the first urge to go and refrain from going until your scheduled time. Eventually, the time between restroom visits lasts for several hours.
Timed voiding helps people who have a condition that makes it hard for them to get to a bathroom in time, such as a physical disability. The person follows a schedule with set times to visit the restroom. This method doesn’t try to teach the person to resist the urge to go.
Prompted voiding trains a caregiver to remind someone to go to the bathroom. The goal is to have fewer accidents by making the person aware that they need to pee every so often. People often use timed voiding at the same time.
Kegel exercises strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, which help with bladder control. Your doctor can tell you how to do them.