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.