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MS Symptom Thesaurus: Muscle Weakness

It’s been a little while since we’ve had an installment of the MS Symptom Thesaurus. When we first started with MS Fatigue in 2013, I wouldn’t have thought that we could keep it going for nearly three years. But that’s the thing about multiple sclerosis (MS): Everyone has a different combination of symptoms, and to varying degrees of severity.

Today, we’ll focus on a rather odd symptom of MS: muscle weakness.

The reason I call this symptom “odd” is because it seems counter to what we know about the disease. MS affects the nerves. Why, then, would we be talking about weakness of the muscles?

‘Navigating Life With Multiple Sclerosis’ Offers Some Answers
The answer, I found, is well explained in a new book I just received, Navigating Life with Multiple Sclerosis, published by the American Academy of Neurology and Oxford University Press. In the book, authors Kathleen Costello, Ben W. Thrower, MD, and Barbara S. Giesser, MD, cover much about our disease. The book will be equally handy to individuals with MS, to family members, and to healthcare providers as it’s written with all of these groups in mind.

When we think of muscle weakness, we might think the muscles themselves are responsible.

But in fact, with MS the culprit is “signal interruptions.” Specifically, the electrical signals that are traveling from your brain to your muscles get interrupted along the way, causing the messages to get scrambled or to not get through at all. Furthermore, such things as heat, cold, exertion, lack of sleep, and stress can make it even harder for signals to get through.

If you’ve ever noticed that you seem stronger than normal at early-morning doctor appointments, particularly when you’re relaxed and have spent time preparing for the visit — versus the times you go at the end of a long work day — you’ll understand this concept.

How MS Muscle Weakness Feels to Me
Weakness issues for me can be coupled with pain and with something I call tremor of intent, a jerking of my muscles that occurs when I move a particular body part, such as an arm.

For the purposes of our MS Symptom Thesaurus, I’d describe MS-related muscle weakness like this:

  • A hollow feeling in my muscles
  • As if I’m moving with my bones, or as if the muscles closer to my core are doing the work for my extremities
  • Like chewing after going to the dentist
  • As if my shadow is trying to move an object
  • Dreamlike (as if I’m trying to move something in a dream, but it won’t budge)
  • Like moving through water
  • The effort required to raise a coffee cup causes me to grimace like a weightlifter

Help Build the Thesaurus With Your Descriptions
These are just a few of the ways I experience MS muscle weakness. I hope you’ll leave a comment describing how you experience it; as I’ve heard from countless people with MS, their families, and even healthcare providers, how we explain things in the MS Symptom Thesaurus has helped them understand or be understood.

Story Source: The above story is based on materials provided by EVERYDAYHEALTH
Note: Materials may be edited for content and length

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