Watch Out!! Be Careful - Numbness, Paresthesia, and Multiple Sclerosis

Patient Expert

Consider the following hypothetical situations:

You're at a family gathering and talking to Cousin MD.

"Cousin MD, I've got a question.   Whenever I try to make a prayer sign behind my back, my left shoulder hurts.   What should I do?"
Cousin MD: "Cousin, I suggest you don't do that."

You're at home (age 12 or so) and talking to your Mom.

"Hey Mom, I've got a question.   Whenever I touch the hot stove, it hurts my fingers.   What should I do?"
Mom: "DON'T DO THAT!   You'll burn yourself."

You're meeting a friend for lunch at a local restaurant.

Friend: "Goodness!   How did you do that to your hand?"

"Do what?" (looking at your left hand)

Friend: "I mean THAT, look at the side of your right hand."

"Oh, I didn't know that was there.   I don't know.   Maybe I burned my hand on the iron when I was pressing my blouse."
Friend:   "You need to be more careful!!"

Those of us who live with multiple sclerosis need to be aware of our surroundings and possible dangers, especially when experiencing numbness or paresthesias.

Shortly after receiving my diagnosis, I was discussing symptoms with a friend who has been living with MS for over 20 years.

She asked me, "do you have numbness in your fingers or hands?"

"Yes, I do.   I have a strip on my hand which is completely numb and there's no sensation in some of my finger tips."
She said, "you need to be very careful when cooking on the stove or when cutting food.   It's too easy to cut a finger or burn yourself and not know it immediately.

"Thanks for the head's up.   Just last week, I accidentally ran my fingers over the razor in the shower and didn't know it until I felt the skin flap when I started washing my hair."
She said, "Lisa, you've got to be more careful from now on."

My friend gave excellent advice.   When sensory messages sent through the nervous system are disrupted, our safety alert system is impaired.   Be careful, my friends, and stay ever vigilant.

Lisa Emrich is author of the blog Brass and Ivory: Life with MS and RA and founder of the Carnival of MS Bloggers.