Like most symptoms of MS, the feeling is different for each person. You might have pain under your rib cage or anywhere between your neck and waistline. It can be dull and achy, sharp, or burning. It can last a few seconds to a few hours, and in rare cases, a few days.
Some people describe a slight tingling or tickling vibration, while others say it’s a crippling pressure below their ribs that can make it hurt to breathe. People often say it’s like wearing a girdle around the middle of your body. For that reason, you may also hear it called the “MS girdle” or “girdle-band” sensation.
What’s Really Going On?
In between each of your ribs are small muscles that hold your rib cage together and help it expand when you move, bend, or breathe. If these muscles have spasms, you feel painful, tightening pressure.
What Should You Do?
If you think you’re having an MS hug, talk to your neurologist or main doctor right away. The symptoms can seem like those of a heart attack, so it’s important to make sure that’s not the case and to rule out any other causes of the pressure.
Your doctor will most likely give you an MRI to look for other things, like gallbladder or lung disease. MS hug can also happen to people with other rib and spinal cord conditions.
Treatment and Therapy
You’re more likely to trigger an MS hug if you’re feeling stressed, overworked, or very tired. So try to take good care of yourself and avoid a flare.
A few things to try:
Apply a warm compress. (Note: Heat may cause more pain in some people.)