—verb (used with object), hugged, hug·ging.
to clasp tightly in the arms, especially with affection; embrace.
to cling firmly or fondly to; cherish: to hug an opinion.
to keep close to, as in sailing, walking, or in moving along or alongside of: to hug the shore; to hug the road.
—verb (used without object), hugged, hug·ging.
to cling together; lie close.
a tight clasp with the arms; embrace.
Origin: 1560–70; perhaps < Old Norse hugga to soothe, console; akin to Old English hogian to care for
A hug is an international form of physical intimacy in which two people put their arms around the neck, back, or waist of one another and hold each other closely. If more than two persons are involved, this is informally referred to as a group hug.
A hug, sometimes in association with a kiss, is a form of nonverbal communication. Depending on culture, context and relationship, a hug can indicate familiarity,love, affection, friendship, brotherhood or sympathy. A hug can indicate support, comfort, and consolation, particularly where words are insufficient. A hug usually demonstrates affection and emotional warmth, sometimes arising from joy or happiness when reunited with someone or seeing someone absent after a long time. A non-reciprocal hug may demonstrate a relational problem. A hug can range from a brief one second squeeze, with the arms not fully around the partner, to an extended holding. The length of a hug in any situation is socially and culturally determined. In the case of lovers, and occasionally others, the hips may also be pressed together.
A tight feeling, usually around your chest but sometimes around your hand, foot or head. It may feel so tight around the chest that you feel like it’s a bit difficult to breathe. Sometimes, it can squeeze you really hard and not let go in a hurry.
The MS hug is quite a common symptom of MS but is not well known, especially to people who have just been diagnosed. It’s probably worth being aware of the possibility so that you are not taken by surprise if this symptom happens to you. It is also known as banding or girdling.
The science bit
There may be a couple of different things going on here depending on what you are experiencing. The feeling of tightness around your chest can be due to spasms in the intercostal muscles between your ribs. Some people also get feelings of aching, stabbing, crawling or pins and needles. This is a kind of dysaesthesia (meaning “not normal sensation”) and is classed, medically, as a kind of pain. As with most things in MS, it’s all due to nerve damage.
What can I do?
So what should you do if you get a band of tightness around your chest? First, think whether is it definitely due to your MS? Any chest pain has to be taken seriously just in case it has a cause that needs immediate medical attention like heart problems. Get checked out ASAP.
Secondly, relax and breath. This is easy to say but sometimes hard to do if you are being squeezed round the chest! However, it’s worth trying as being tensed up won’t help. Also, the symptoms usually pass without treatment so try and sit it out as comfortably as possible.
Some people find that a warm bath or heat pad helps. Drug treatments are available if the hug is really persistent, including those often used for other forms of dysaesthesia.
Wear a hat!
I’m not joking. Many people say that the best way to deal with the MS hug is to distract the brain from puzzling over the feeling of tightness. Although you can’t get rid of the tight feeling, giving the brain a good reason for the feeling can stop it focussing on the odd sensation and worrying about it. So, if it’s your head that has the MS hug, wear a hat! If it’s your chest, you could wear a close fitting top. Gloves, socks or boots may help with tight feelings in the hands or feet. However, some people say that wearing really loose clothing is better – give it a try and find out what’s best for you.
MS hug information taken from