I woke up one morning and my right arm was feeling a little funny, tingly and numb. I figured I slept on it wrong and it would go away. A few days later, it had gotten worse and my left arm and hand were starting to feel the same; bad news for me, as I’m left handed and a teacher and write all day long.
Fast-forward another two weeks, and my right arm was better, but my left side had gotten worse and my leg was numb too. I began having a hard time walking, writing, buttoning clothes, putting on jewelry, doing just about anything you need your hands and legs for.
What was going on?
I was experiencing numbness, one of the most common and often first symptoms of multiples sclerosis. My case was severe enough that is caused me to have much difficulty in my daily activities.
According to the Mayo Clinic, “Numbness is defined as the loss of sensation or feeling in parts of your body, such as a pin-and-needles feeling, burning, or tingling. Numbness is usually caused by damage, irritation, or compression of a single branch of a nerve, or several nerves.”
The myelin covering our nerves is damaged in places in people with MS, and explains why numbness is one of the most common and first symptoms people experience.
How do we get the feeling back?
The most common treatment for numbness is a three to five day course of high-dose intravenous steroids. Some cases are also followed by a slow taper of oral steroids.
There is another option for people who have any type of issue with intravenous medication. It is an injection of gel that helps stimulate the adrenal cortex gland. Sometimes, if the numbness affects your ability to complete daily tasks, rehabilitation will also be recommended to help regain control of the extremities.
For me, I had five days intravenous Solu-Medrol follows by ten days of a Deltasone (Prednisone) taper. I had some issues and side effects with the steroids. While receiving my doses, I got a metallic taste in my mouth. I somehow discovered that eating powdered donuts while getting the steroids helped keep the tastes away.
After just one day of steroids, I began to notice improvements in myself although spent a week in a rehabilitation facility gaining control of my left leg and hand again. By the time I was done with all the steroids and therapies, I began starting to feel like myself again and was able to walk more normal, write better, and return to the person I was before I knew I had MS.
Have you ever experienced numbness? Was it your first symptom? What helped you regain feeling?
Vanessa is a 28 year old living in Massachusetts with her husband and 7 year old Puggle, named Rocky. She currently works in an elementary school and as a fitness instructor and health/fitness coach. She was diagnosed in April of 2014 with relapse-remitting MS and is currently taking Tecfidera. She enjoys being outdoors, spending time with her family and friends, reading, and traveling.