"Electric shock" type pain

Hi everyone,

just wanted too ask if anyone out there ever experiences electric shock type pain. They happen unexpectedly and often in the most inconvenient place.

Now this is just my personal discription of how they feel so perhaps it may not be the same for you.

I feel as if ive been shot, usually in the sole of my foot by a bolt of electricity which then travels up my leg and leaves my body usually around my hip area!  I rarely have more than a couple at a time but they are momentarily painful and have been known to be so strong that the leg it happens in will collapse slightly. they predominantly happen in my right foot; which along with my right leg and arm were the casualties of my last big relapse several years ago. 


Joy x 

Yes, Joy,
I used to get these (mainly upper body, shoulders, upper arms, but sometimes in the legs).
I could drive for a hour, walk to my office, and the mement I sat down, they started.

Neuro put me on Gabapentin (2 x 300mg, three times daily) and that was the end of them.

I think that even your GP can prescribe this.


Hi Geoff,

Thank you, for your reply. I will discuss with my GP. Never used this drug, in fact I have been fortunate over the years too have not required much, was on Baclofen for several years but as my fatigue worsened after I was involved in a near fatal car accident 3 years ago I made the decission to come off it as it was counteracting the effects of my modafinil and I have been fortunate not too have required anything else than my modafinil since.

Much appreciated

Joy x    



Probably L'Hermittes; do you find it happens when you put your chin on your breast?


L'Hermitte's sign describes electrical buzzing sensations in the limbs and body brought on by movement of the neck. These sensations are known as paraesthesia and include tingling, buzzing, electrical shocks, partial numbness and sharp pains. L'Hermitte's is most often triggered by lowering the head so that the chin touches the chest. The sensations usually only last for a second or two. It has been called the "barber shop" symptom because it is often evoked when the hairdresser asks you to lower your head when he or she shaves the back of your neck.

L'Hermitte's is associated with a number of conditions including arthritis, cervical spondylosis, disc compression, pernicious anaemia, tumours and multiple sclerosis. In many cases, the cause cannot be found.

Because the cervical spinal cord is a frequent target for multiple sclerosis it is a very common symptom of MS. Aproximately two thirds of people with multiple sclerosis experience L'Hermitte's symptom at some point during the course of their disease.

In MS, L'Hermitte's is an indicator of lesions in the cervical spine (the part of spine in the neck). Movement of the neck causes the damaged nerves (the demyelinated neurons) to be stretched and send erroneous signals. The symptoms can occur anywhere below the neck and many people with MS find that it moves around their body from one day to the next.


I think electric shock sensations are quite common in MS, without it necessarily being L'Hermiite's.

I get similar shock-like sensations in my hands, but only when moving them in certain ways - nothing to do with the position of my head (and no lesions in cervical spine at time of last MRI, although that was admittedly some time ago).

Specifically, I get the "shocks" when performing a twisting/turning motion with my hand - for me, the most common trigger is turning a tap.  I don't get it when performing a normal range of hand movements, other than twisting/turning.  For example, I'm not getting it whilst typing this.

I don't even get it if I mime turning an imaginary tap!  But if I went to the kitchen and turned the real one, there's a good probability I could induce a zap.  And no, it can happen with any traditional-style tap, anywhere, before anyone suggests an electrical fault in the house!  It doesn't happen with lever-style, though.


Hi Joy, 

I get these if I've been walking. Noticed them years before diagnosis. Walked 15 minutes to the train. stood on the platform 

and felt waves of electric shocks from my toes to my waist. Knew something not right but didn't go to the drs for years. 

I take amiltriptyline at night to calm them down. Take one every night or two if they're bad. Helps me sleep.

Speak to your GP

Jen x

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I usually get l'Hermittes whenever I have relapses to varying degrees.  Sometimes they're so bad they set off spasms in my hands and sometimes my left hand has been stuck like a claw for 5-10 minutes which is painful.  Sometimes the shock goes all the way down my spine to fingertips and toes.

Sometimes it starts at my hip for instance and goes halfway down a leg.  So not classic l'Hermittes.  Just a very odd feeling like an electric shock and it makes me feel like my leg is going to give way for a few seconds, leaves a bit of tingling and buzzing so I stand for a few moments until it passes, then I'm fine again.  I haven't found a trigger for it or a solution to it yet.

Tracey x

I get them in various places,legs back arms and the left hand which is frequent and seems similar to Tina`s as only in certain positions of use,holding a pen,normal taps,etc   Janine x

Hi , I find Tegeretol (carbamazepine) good for electric shock stuff , I get mine in the head mostly , 


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Hi Guy's

I've been suffering with these electric shocks for a while now. Mainly in my armpit, either left or right side but never at the same time... whenever the issue arises (sometime months apart) only one side is affected.

It feels like I'm being tortured and a cattle prod is discharging into my armpit and sometimes it fires back down my arm and almost out my little finger. I’ve tried to work out if its posture, in particular my head movement that provokes it but whenever I think I’ve found it it changes…

My neurologist put me on carbamazepine which affected my fatigue levels and balance (just what someone with MS needs!!!) and I’m now on Gabapentin 200 mg per day. This is much less that Geoff refers to above which is interesting… Sometime I’m fine, right now I’m getting between ‘a couple’ to lots (40+) per day. Some are single ‘zaps’ some a bunch or scattering which make me flinch are even swear out loud.

My MS specialist nurse suggested Botox at one point… this would be to target the specific nerve and affectively remove the problem however this was discredited by the consultant when I discussed it with him.

I’ve experienced L'Hermittes for many years; I describe it a bit like the buzz you get from licking a 9volt battery. I can provoke it by putting my chin down to my chest…

I am keen to find out if anyone has a name for these electric shocks??  I don’t think they are L'Hermittes but I’m keen to hear anyone’s opinion…


I can’t remember the name for them but my consultant did name it and explained why it happens. Basically he explained it quite well which is that the brain is like a plug and has multiple wires insulated within one cover - this plug and cover is the myelin sheath. When ms attacks the myelin (the coating round the plug) it becomes damaged and exposes the multiple wires that are insulated in the coating.

When the plug turns on it sends the signals through the wires but the coating round the wires is damaged so the wires misfire and send the wrong signals from the plug (the brain) to the end wire which in turn means that its sending a nerve signal to the wrong wire and causing electric shock like feeling.

The consultant said that gabapentin etc help to control the nerve so that it doesn’t misfire - however you can retrain your brain naturally with exercises so that it doesnt travel down the damaged nerve pathways. Your brain retrains to use non damaged pathways and this will work until more and more lesions and damage happens.

Hope that makes sense

Hi.  I had really bad nerve pain too, mainly in my legs but mine was constant, no relief and it made life unbearable.  My GP put me on gabapentin, I'm now on the maximum of 1200mg three times a day and amitriptyline 50mg at night.  It was slow increases but I'm comfortable now, no longer planning my one way ticket to Switzerland. 

Hope you get sorted out.  Please let us know.

Min x

Hi Min,

I’m so glad you’re not planning a one way trip! I know how you feel though, nerve pain is draining and relentless. I’ve recently tripled my Gabapentin from 200 mg at night to 200 morning and noon too. 20 mg of Amitrip at bedtime. This still doesn’t always knock the pain but I’m doing better.

I used to get the electric shock sensations down both arms if I nodded my head. That was one of my early symptoms and have stopped now.

Sara x

Hi Guys
I am also on Amitriptyline and Gabapentin, just had it increased to 30mg Amitriptyline and 300mg of Gabapentin,I take both only before bed.
My question is I drive to work, and work 4days a week, if I ask to take some during the day what might the side effect do?
Thanks Deborah

Gabapentin no problem.
When I was put on Gaba I was working part-time - which meant 42 miles each way, twice a week.  The formal advice is to make sure that it does not make you drowsy before you drive.

I think Amitriptyline has the same sort of warning.

So the short answer is to try it out over the weekend, and see if there are any signs of drowsiness.  And, of course, if in doubt, don't!


Thanks Geoff that’s a great idea I will try this weekend and see how it effects me.Deborah

I find it made me a bit dozy for few days while my system adapted to the higher doses but then was fine after that. I drive and work full time.

Sara x

I’m on maximum dose as I previously stated. I didn’t drive with each increase in dose for a few days until I was sure I felt well enough. I still have the odd day without driving when I’m tired or dizzy but it’s nothing many of you have. I’m even taking morphine on top of my other meds and function. The few days rest are definitely preferable to chronic nerve pain.

I hope you manage to get relief.


I have nerve pain in my arm and hand, sometimes electric shock type pain, stabbing pains or terrible itching. I did get prescribed Gabapentin but changed to Pregabalin (Lyrica) which is MUCH better and keeps the pain tolerable. I also take Amatryptaline at night as it helps me sleep as well as numb the pain. Hope this helps. : )

Hi everyone iv been diagnosed with paresthesia by my neuro but they are still looking into the cause. Unfortunately my skin on my whole body feels like it is constantly buzzing. Any contact causes a lot of pain showers are unbearable. But to top it all off my legs can go numb at any point then I tend to trip or stumble. My muscles twitch as well and at night the pain can be extreme. Unfortunately I’m now getting extreme pain during the day. I’m on gabapentin and it’s being increased to 900mg 3x a day. Been off work the whole time as can’t function safely. Lack of sleep doesn’t help. I’m due a brain and neck scan but until then I don’t know what to do. Any suggestions or advice would be greatly appreciated as feeling really down.