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Breathing problems
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Breathing problems

I'm just wondering if anyone else has this problem or if it is even related to MS.
I have been diagnosed for 9 years and have relatively mild ongoing MS symptoms unless
I have a flare-up.  Lately I have been having tightness in my chest muscles that make it difficult
to take a deep breath.  I am admittedly out of shape, but have never had this problem before.
Sometimes at night I wake up feeling like someone is sitting on my chest. (I do have tightness in other muscles-legs etc.)  Does this sound
familiar to anyone?
Thanks.
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14 Comments Post a Comment
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335728_tn?1331418012
Hello and Welcome to our Forum!  So sorry to hear that you have been having problems lately and that you have been diagnosed with MS.  

I, myself have not experienced the symptoms that you are relating here but if someone here has I am sure that they will let you know.  Have you told your physician about this problem?  I too am overweight and have muscle spasms but have never experienced what you are talking about.  In my opinion, you should seek out the help of your physician just to be on the safe side...tightness in one's chest as far as I know is not a good thing and should be followed up!

I just want to let you know that this site is a great place to be if you have questions, if you need to talk, if you are feeling frustrated...the people on this site are wonderful and will generally help with any questions that you have.  We are not physician's except for one member, Quix, who is a retired Pediatrician and has been diagnosed with MS herself and is a wonderful help to all of us.  Please be assured that when someone sees your question and they have experienced it they will respond.

Again, welcome to the Forum and please be patient as to an answer to your question as I know that someone will respond with more knowledge than I.  (I still think that you should bring this up with your physician though)

Lots of Hugs,

Rena705
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222135_tn?1236491821
I second that welcome!

The "sitting on my chest" thing worries me. Have you had a good physical lately? How is your blood pressure? I would get the 'ol ticker checked first just to be on the safe side.

Penn
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147426_tn?1317269232
Hi, I agree that Pressure on the chest should automatically be reported to your doctor.

That said, and assuming you will do that, Rena had the right idea, when she sent you hugs.  I suspect what you are experiencing is called the "MS Hug."  It is the sensation of a tight band of pressure all or mostly around a part of the body.  Very often it is around the chest, but I have heard people speak of it around the abdomen or around limbs.  It is classified as a spasm phenomenon.  Here are two websites to read about it.  The first is the most complete , but the second is also a great resource site from the UK.

http://ms.about.com/od/signssymptoms/a/ms_hug_pain.htm

http://www.msrc.co.uk/index.cfm?fuseaction=show&pageid=1418

Anyone reading who has not heard about this phenomenon should read the first link's explanation.  We have had several threads and discussions about the Hug.  But, no one should assume that tightness or pressure in the chest with difficulty breathing is a Hug until more serious problems with the heart or lungs have been ruled out!

Quix
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335728_tn?1331418012
Thanks for clearing that up for us Quix...I had heard about MS pts. having this spasm phenomenom but when I was working at the LTC hospital and it occured around the chest, the dr was always called in an the pt. monitored closely for heart and lung problems.  I am thankful that you have provided this info for both the Librarian and the rest of us...it is very valuable info to have in the backs of our minds.

Real Hugs,

Rena705
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Avatar_f_tn
Hi!  I had the tightband feeling for many months about two years ago.  It was even hard to breathe just sitting in a chair.  My lungs started hyperinflating such as when you have asthma or COPD (but without evidence of disease on the x-ray).  Allergy testing for the present environmental and food allergies was negative.  A pulmonary specialist said that he did not know how I was able to breathe.  I went to him for an referral and told him not being able to breathe was the least of my problems.  He seemed shocked.  But, I told him my respiration problems were nothing for me compared to everything else going on in my life and the other sensory symptoms that I was having.  He seemed absolutely shocked but genuinely interested.  

The docs kept telling me that the chest xrays were normal and kept asking me if I was smoking more.  I kept telling them that I have NEVER smoked.  I took steroids several times during that period.  I had problems for over six months.  I asked for MRIs which came back abnormal with lesions in my C-spine.  The specialists kept denying that anything was wrong even though my primary stated that my lungs were okay but that I probably had MS.  I had myself checked for infections, fungus, TB, etc. without any positive results.  Even had my spinal fluid checked negative for infection.  I felt so rotten I was ready to have back surgery as a hopefully positive resort for my problems.  A lesion seen during that time now looks (two years later) like I may have had transverse myelitis at the time.  I could not get a doctor to order contrast for that MRI.  It was unbelievable.  Even today my old neurologist trained at John Hopkins is insisting that they are all artifacts and poor positioning.  But, I had the MRIs repeated at two more facilities and I can still see the lesions there.  I had at least one possible posterior demylination lesion on my 2001 cervical MRI.  The tight band feeling of 2005 later went away.  I kind of describe the difficulty breathing like trying to blow up a balloon when it has the greater resistance.  I had several periods of weird chest sensations since my chemical exposure years before.  I just figured it was some kind of multiple chemical sensitivity type hyperimmune reaction.  Some doctors kept telling me anxiety:  But, I thought differently; and now, I know differently.  

Later, I had rubber band feelings around my lower legs several times for ongoing periods.  My right leg felt like I had a rubberband or tight knee high panty hose around it even though nothing was there.  It was tight enough that it would wake me up at night.  I have had this problem several times.  Sometimes it is mildly annoying.  Sometimes it feels like someone is really cutting the blood supply off with a tourniquet and is somewhat aggravating and painful.  Initially my rheumy gave me cymbalta thinking that I had fibromyalgia.  It did seem to help; but, I think there may be a reaction problem with my Maxalt.  Possible serotonin syndrome. Both the rheumy and new neuro have seemed to have thrown the fibro diagnosis off the list since they both are thinking MS.

At some points during the tight feelings and also afterwards, if I recall correctly, I was having terrible spasms in my thighs for days/weeks where I just wanted to cry.  Even narcotics and some of the strongest muscle relaxers did nothing for them.  I tried taking pills to make me sleep.  That was what the doctor suggested I try to do to get through them.  I tried warm soaks with stretching exercises and massage and therapy exercises.  They had huge knots in them that you could visibly see.  I had had this in the past for weeks at a time, especially if I tried to work too hard.  I have also had to get cortisone shots for trigger points in the past five years.  Also have had costal chondritis several times.  I do not know if some of this is experienced by other people with MS or if this is another autoimmune problem such as lupus and/or fibromyalgia or the toxins I was exposed to or what.  

Right now I am having pressure problems and went to the ER due to extremely unrelenting migraines with a little difficulty breathing and heart palpitations and a lumpy? feeling in my chest.  I went to two different doctors for antibiotics and/or more testing.  They told me I was migranous and anxious and did not treat me.  I made the ER check my lungs.  They ordered an x-ray and diagnosed me as having pneumonia although I am not running a fever or coughing, etc.  I am going back for more studies because they believe that there may be more problems or that they are kind of unsure of what is all going on exactly.  I have been in pain pretty much since at least April and finally broke down for some dilaudid IV at the ER for my intense migraines and other symptoms.  The pain is my body is just so much better.  My emotions and cognitive abilities seem better.  The dilaudid almost always gives me more energy, too, unless I start vomiting from it.  I have found less side effects with the phenergan before hand.  Yeah!  But, I think that it is starting to wear off and my tremors are coming back.

Hope this helps!

Take care!

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195469_tn?1388326488
Quix brings up a good point.  Everything that happens to our bodies is not always caused by MS.  This is extremely important to remember.  Even our doctor's make the same mistake and chaulk it up to MS symptoms.

Many physical problems can be missed by this attitude and we won't get the treatment we need.  Sometimes even real disorders can be dismissed by doctors as soon as they read MS on our charts.  Having been diaagnosed with MS for over a decade now, I have had this happen to me many times.  I have literally had to remind doctor's that all is not caused from MS. )These doctor's are no longer my doctors because of this.)

The tightness or pressure feeling "on" the chest should not be mistaken for the "MS Bear Hug."  The MS hug feels like someone is standing on each side of you, pushing your chest in with their hands, so it feels like you cannot take a deep breath.  This was a common symptom for me in the beginning of my course.  The squeezing feelings "around" my chest, was what I felt.  If I had any pressure on top of my chest, I would immediately notify my doctor to rule out any other cause.

People with MS and even those going through limbo...don't have to learn this lesson the hard way.  Do not chaulk up everything happening to your body as an MS symptom.  It's better to go to the doctor, have things checked out, then rest assured that it maybe it is MS; than risk something being wrong with your heart.  Even younger women can suffer from chest discomfort due to heart problems, even common fibromyositis, which is a spasm, inflammation type process that can cause a spasm in the chest wall.  Usually starting at mid-chest, (center) shooting under the arm and down the side of the chest wall.  A squeezing, pressure type pain.  Sounds like a heart symptom, doesn't it?

Always get checked by a doctor, when you are having symptoms like this that concern you.  Esepcially when you are at rest....like in the bed.  Better to err on the side of caution, than to miss something important, that can be dealt with.

'Librarian,' please let us know what your doctor says.  I personally want to know what is going on.

Be well dear lady.  I hope you feel better.

Happy Holidays to you and your family.  I am so glad that you posted this.  It's an important subject and one that bares repeating.

Heather
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Avatar_n_tn
Thank you all so much for your welcomes and advice.  I appreciated the links on the MS hug, too Quix.  I admit I am one to chalk up just about everything up  MS, because just about every symptom can be MS.  And, doctors sometimes act as though it can't be from MS unless it is a "textbook" symptom.   It is always good to hear from those who really live with the disease!
That said, I guess I should go to the doctor and see what's up.  
Librarian
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305544_tn?1198001210
Hi Librarian!
I am not sure if this is the same pain, but I had for months a pain that was located just to the left (where my heart would be, but behind---lung area?) of my spine in my deep back that would hurt so bad if I took a deep breath or bent a certain way.  I really thought I had broken a rib or something.  I had ex rays to rule any lung disorder and my doctor told me it was severe muscle spasms and was prescribed a muscle relaxer (which did not help much, but make my balance worse and sleepy).  I hope you see your doctor and rule out other things and it goes away soon.
Happy Holidays!
Terrie
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Avatar_n_tn
Terrie,
It does sound similar, as I do also have pain in my back, though most of it is on the right side.
I have been perscribed muscle relaxers for other spasms which made me too sleepy so I only take them at night so I can sleep.
Thanks.
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147426_tn?1317269232
DITTO on the "chauking up" talk, but, since I first heard about the 'HUG' I have been reading about it.  It can feel like a pressure or pushing, it can be just on one side, it can feel like it restrcits breathing, it can be extremely painful (like a broken rib).  The hug is so variable because it can involve any combination of symptoms at just about any level.

Now the opposite subject.  99% of the good and well-known reasearch on heart symptoms was done on MEN.  They are just now acknowledging that women very often present atypically with heart pain.  Women can have typical chest pressure, left arm pain symptoms, but just as often they have nausea, jaw pain, anterior neck pain, "heartburn", both arms may hurt, pain with inspiration.  Any persistent discomfort should be run by the doctor.  Q
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147426_tn?1317269232
I meant to say  - the hug is so variable because it can involve almost any combinations of muscles in spasms...

(Shheeeesh!) q
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Avatar_f_tn
I think that everyone here has brought up some really good points.  The first time my PCP told me that he thought that I had MS he said that he would not put it into my charts for two reasons:  1) Everyone wants to blame everything on MS when it could be something else; and 2)If it is not MS then no insurance company wants to cover you just because the MS term was in the chart.

I agree that it is nothing to take lightly.  I would definitely consider seeing a doctor.  I hope the best for you and that you get feeling better really soon.

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Avatar_f_tn
I have a son who I believe may have MS. We have seen a myriad of doctors and specialists, (at first we thought he had asthma-and he has been diagnosed with GERD.) I am hoping to get a referral to see a neurologist at our next appt. with his pediatrician, (he is 14.) The scariest symptom, which has been chronic for the past 9-10 months, is his inability to breath. He panics and hyperventilates. I have read that, although this is usually a symptom which onsets later in the progression, it can, in fact be the first. He also has developed some visual impairment and strange senssations in his penis, testicles, and sphinxter. This symptom was actually the first, as it began occurring when he was only 8 yrs. old. I'm very worried, especially about his inability to breath. He has been on numerous meds for Anxiety with little relief. Any feedback would be immensly appreciated.
LixinTx
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1831849_tn?1383231992
Hi Liz - Welcome to our MS FunFest!

I'm sorry to hear that your son is having issues. This thread is 6 years old and many of the posters are no longer here. You may want to "Post a Question" and introduce yourself. There are lots of smart folks here and they may see the old date of this thread and move on.

Kyle
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