Is numbness always a sign of relapse?

I’ve already messaged my neurologist about this but I wanted to hear your experiences.

Is mild hand numbness (2-3 days so far for me) always a sign of a relapse? Or can it go away on its own without it being a relapse?

I’ve never really been clear on what constitutes a relapse, so I don’t consider it one unless I have significant problems over a period of weeks.

I get random numbness in various parts of my body that lasts anywhere from a few minutes to several days. It’s always gone away eventually. Often, it’s just a sign that I need to rest that part of the body.

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@NorasMom I’ve recently had to reduce my dose of Rebif since it was damaging my liver, until I can get my dimethyl fumarate (Tecfidera). That’s why I’m quite worried about my hand numbness (haven’t had this in a very long time)

It’s really difficult to know sometimes whether a new / repeated symptom is the start of a relapse. Hand numbness could just be a mild ‘there for a couple of days’ thing. Or might be a relapse. Since you’ve recently had to stop Rebif, there’s a possibility that it is an early sign of a relapse.

Do you have an MS nurse who you can ask for advice? If I were you I’d get hold of someone to talk about it soon. If it is a relapse, depending on how bad it gets you could get some steroids.

Personally, I’ve tended to only take high dose steroids for a bad ‘motor’ type relapse; ie one that affects eyesight (optic neuritis) or mobility. Something that’s sensory could be a bit of overkill. Given that steroids don’t alter the outcome of a relapse, they just shorten the length of time the relapse lasts. So probably best to tough it out, for a few days at least until you know what’s going to happen with it.

But talk to an MS nurse if you can.


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Hi Sue, I’ve had the numbness for almost 2 weeks now. At the beginning, the numbness was increasing but then it just stopped increasing, it hasn’t gone away yet though. I spoke to a doctor and she said it doesn’t appear to be a relapse (I hope).

Just speaking about my own experience, I had numbness specifically in my right hand and only in my fourth finger and pinkie, it lasted just over a week and I’d never experienced any right sided numbness at all. Unfortunately new lesions were shown in my most recent MRI which would indicate that for me it was a relapse. It was combined with extreme fatigue, muddled, forgotten words and fast heart rate.

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It’s been just over 2 weeks now and the numbness is still there, it isn’t in a new place, my left hand has been the hand which was always affected.

I will probably go see my doctor this week