Coping methods for sensory relapse


I’m just wondering if anyone has any methods for coping with a sensory relapse? I have pins and needles in my feet, with some numbness. Hyper sensitivity issues up both my legs with muscle tightening, particularly bad around my knees. I’ve also recently developed lower back tightening which is very achy and stopping me from sleeping.

i wear compression socks which help my lower legs but I’m wondering I can try anything else. I haven’t taken a huge amount of pain relief drugs as I guess I’m assuming they won’t help??



It may be a sensory relapse, but it sounds pretty unpleasant. When did it start? As I’m sure you already know, steroids aren’t always a good idea, you shouldn’t have more than 2 courses in a year (some now say 3, but it’s your bones in later life that can pay the price in osteoporosis). You can still take steroids for a bad sensory relapse, but it sounds like you’ve decided to tough it out. Steroids work best when they’re taken right at the start of a relapse.

Make sure it is a relapse though, a UTI can give you symptoms like a relapse, so if there’s any possibility that you have an infection, get that tested and sorted out.

You are right that ordinary painkillers won’t help (paracetamol, ibuprofen etc) although some people do take co-codamol. It might help a bit.

It’s neuropathic pain relief you need. You could try a low dose of Amitriptyline (your GP should be OK to prescribe this). It’s basically a tranquilliser in higher doses (say 150mg), but in low doses on 10 to 20mg, at first especially, it can help with pins and needles, burning pain and hypersensitivity. The thing to do with Amitriptyline though is to take it in the early evening, by about 7 o’clock. If you take it during the day you might feel quite dopey and spaced out, and taken too late at night it can give you a hangover type feeling the next day.

Other neuropathic pain drugs include Gabapentin and Pregabalin. Your GP might not be so keen on prescribing these unless a neurologist or MS nurse has prescribed / suggested them (and has been in touch with your surgery to explain what they recommend). So if you have a good MS nurse, you could ask for help and advice.

If your muscles are stiff/tight and/or spasming, Baclofen is a good drug for muscular relaxation. Just low doses again, too much muscle relaxant and you might feel a bit weak.

Apart from drugs, there’s heat and cold. You can get microwaveable heat pads, either gel packs or wheat bags. I’d stay clear of gel packs that need reconstitution in boiling water though, they’re a pain. Some people alternate heat packs with frozen gel packs (or soak a flannel, put in in a sealable plastic bag and freeze it). Or you could use a cooling spray like Magicool. A heat pack might help your back.

Then there’s stretching exercises to help tight and sore muscles. Just standing and rising up on tiptoes can help. Or get therabands (stretchy elastic bands specially made for exercise) and wind one around your foot then gently pull your foot up. I always used to sit on the floor and just stretch my legs out, then touch my toes. Or lay sideways across a double bed with your head over the edge and stretch your arms above your head.

Hopefully some of this might help. Relapses are sent from the devil to taunt poor MSers.


Thanks Sue, this is really helpful

No I’m not toughing it out, I’ve had a course of steroids but I’m not sure they did anything! I started them 2.5 weeks after the symptoms started as I was really struggling. I had my urine checked first, no infection. Finished the course on Monday so now looking for ways to cope while this relapse does its thing

I didn’t realise there were so many drugs I could be taking, my MS nurse kind of suggested there was nothing more they could do! I think I’ll be emailing here a few of your suggestions later. My doctors surgery are useless, this is only my second attack and the first was in another country, so from their perspective I’m not an MS sufferer, I had to fight for them to send my urine off for cultures, not fun!

My back is the real issue now, it aches constantly and I just can’t get comfortable at all. I’ve got a cold muscular rub I might try before bed? That’s the worse time, trying to sleep.

Thanks again for the advice, definitely something to talk to my nurse about, and I’ll give some stretching a go


Sue’s given a good comprehensive reply. Just a couple extra things to try. taking a magnesium supplement can help muscles to relax. And also mindfulness meditation can help you to cope and tolerate things. The idea of it sounds like it’d never help - simply noticing what things feel like and accepting it - no labelling it as bad or wishing things were different. But, weirdly, it can help reduce the unpleasantness of something. Try the Get Some Headspace website for an intro and some meditations.


Hi Raven i use a heat pad its lush and helps my muscles relax. you could go on a short does of diazepam at night this will relax your muscles enough to help you sleep i do. or like sue, said amytriptyline is good too for sensory stuff. there is loads of stuff to help neuro Paresthesia. Its so common in MS. You should have your B12 checked as this can be a cause of this with MS. I feel your pain, i have it 100per cent drives me nuts. yes and try magensium supplement i agree with Dan. xxxx

Just watch out for the type of magnesium you take. Magnesium citrate can have a laxative effect, so could cause diarrhoea. Magnesium Glycinate is better. Or many people use a magnesium spray to apply to their legs topically.


1 Like

Cheers for mentioning that Sue, I forgot about that :slight_smile: