Tips For Easing Numbness and Tingling When You Have MS

Simple Ways to Put Parethesia on Hold

Most anyone with multiple sclerosis (MS) deals with paresthesia, the clinical name for numbness and tingling in a body part. These sensations can affect legs and feet, arms and hands, and, in rare instances, even the mouth. What's more, they can be pretty constant and uncomfortable—a never-ending reminder that you have a chronic illness.

Unfortunately, that funny feeling is considered a "benign" symptom, meaning that it is what it is, but it probably won't get bad enough to make it tough to function. Besides, at this point, there's little that modern science or medicine can do to relieve paresthesia.

On the bright side, having no straightforward way to treat paresthesia has inspired many MS patients to come up their own remedies, many of which are safe and may even be effective. If tingly toes or buzzy fingers are a fact of your life with MS, here are some strategies that may make these symptoms less bothersome.

  • Call in a bodywork specialist. Book a session with a physical therapist or massage therapist (or both) who works with MS symptoms.
  • Hit the mat. A regular yoga practice can both strengthen and stretch muscles so that you're better able to deal with your symptoms. Stretching, in general, can help.
  • Give yourself a rubdown. Massage lotion into your arms and legs, hands and feet, before you hit the sack. 
  • Ice any pain. If you have pain with your paresthesia, ice packs or an over-the-counter cooling cream or gel made with menthol such as Biofreeze can temporarily bring relief.
  • Feel the heat. Warm compresses or a muscle soreness ointment like Tiger Balm may feel better to you than cold. Try both.
  • Do a tap dance. If your feet are bothering you while you're in bed, gently tap or bang them together. The little jolts may distract you from the discomfort. 
  • Add a layer. If tingling during the night is so severe it feels as if sandpaper is rubbing against your arms or legs when they move against the sheets, try sleeping in long sleeves or leggings.
  • Sock it to pain. Compression stockings help some folks get relief from paresthesia in the feet and legs. 
  • Give yourself props. Certain sitting and sleeping positions may exacerbate numbness and tingling. Ask your doctor or a physical therapist to suggest ways you might use extra pillows or special cushions to counter this.
  • Don't overthink it. Changes in symptoms, even mild ones, may lead you to worry that your MS is getting worse. This is a good time to channel actor Michael J. Fox, a champion of Parkinson's disease who has said,"If you worry about something that never happens, then worrying about it was a waste of time. If you worry about something and it does happen then you will have lived it twice and why do that?”
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