Numbness and Tingling

Numbness and tingling are among the most common complaints in MS. They usually are an annoyance rather than a truly disabling symptom. They occur when the nerves that transmit sensation do not conduct information properly, so that one is unable to feel sensation from that area.

Little can be done to treat numbness and, because it usually is a harmless symptom, there is no real need to do so. In some cases, steroids may improve sensation by decreasing inflammation, but their use is reserved for instances of real need. Gabapentin (Neurontin®) and/or amitriptyline (Elavil®) may be administered with an occasional decrease in feelings of numbness.

Focusing on numbness may magnify the problem and make it especially bothersome. The best approach is to realize that it is only an annoyance and does not imply a worsening of the disease. A more aggressive approach with cortisone therapy may be considered if the numbness involves the hands, impairing fine movements, or the genitalia, making sexual relations difficult. Unfortunately, no medication specifically treats numbness.

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