Does Stress Cause Ms Flare Ups - (2023)

How Stress Impacts Ms

Stress is causing me Horrible MS & Fibromyalgia Flare ups

Its no wonder stress is considered a trigger for MS. Inflammation, after all, is part of the stress response.

Stress also has a major impact on the immune system. With MS, the immune system is already compromised, so stress could become an unwelcome inspiration for new MS disease activity.

Throw in muscle tension, poor sleep, and anxiety, and you have all the ingredients for a flare-up. Pain, muscle spasms, cognitive fog, fatigue: these are all common stress responses for people with MS.

Even when a pseudoexacerbation not a relapse, but a surfacing of unpleasant MS symptoms occurs as the result of stress, it can lay us out for hours or days.

Can Stress Cause More Ms Lesions

Lesions refer to areas where the central nervous system has been scarred or damaged, and are the foundation of MS symptoms. There is a close link between the proliferation of lesions and an increase in symptoms, and a number of factors can cause more lesions.

While there is scientific disagreement around whether stress can lead to the initial onset of MS, there is evidence to suggest that prolonged periods of stress can cause a worsening in MS symptoms for people who are living with relapsing remitting MS . Whether you have RRMS or primary progressive MS , the extent to which stress impacts MS symptoms may be dependent on how your body deals with stress so learning effective stress management techniques with the OMS Program is an effective way to maintain a level of control.

Worried About Ms Flares 4 Triggers That Can Worsen Your Symptoms

Maintaining healthy habits and being aware of what can trigger a symptom flare can help you better manage your MS.

The majority of people living with multiple sclerosis are initially diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS, meaning they experience periods of acute symptoms, called relapses or exacerbations, that are generally followed by periods with minimal, or at least less acute, symptoms, called remissions.

“When a new neurological symptom develops in multiple sclerosis, one that isnt related to an infection and lasts for more than 24 hours, it is considered to be an MS relapse,” explains Devon Conway, MD, a neurologist at the Mellen Center for Multiple Sclerosis at Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.

Relapses are caused by inflammation in the central nervous system, and remissions occur as the inflammation dies down.

But not every episode of symptom worsening in MS is a relapse. When old symptoms reappear but subside within 24 hours, the episode is referred to as a pseudorelapse or pseudoexacerbation, according to the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America.

While the cause of a relapse or pseudoexacerbation may not always be easily identifiable, there are some common triggers of both, says Matthew McCoyd, MD, a neurologist and associate professor with the Loyola University Health System in Illinois.

Here are some common triggers for MS symptom flares, as well as tips on how to avoid them.

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Q What Causes Sciatica Hip Pain

If the Sciatica nerve is pinched you may experience hip pain as your body starts to favor the side affected by the pinched nerve.

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That adds more pressure to your hips, this can lead to excessive pain and if you have excessive weight or a degenerative joint disease you are likely to experience more pain.

Herniated Disc And Sciatica

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A herniated disc may then impinge or compress a nerve, which can cause pain around the area of the affected disc. Research suggests that nerve impingement due to slipped disc is the most common reason for sciatica.

So, what are the most common signs and symptoms of sciatica? And what are the most common sciatica risk factors?

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Q Why Is Sciatica Worse At Night

When you lay down you put additional pressure on your nerves and that can heighten pain. Moreover, most people sleep in cold temperatures and some people become sensitive to cold temperatures because of the pain.

Doctors also conclude that Sciatica pain worsens at night because at night people are usually left to their devices, they have nothing to distract their mind from the pain and that is when they notice their pain the most.

Furthermore, at night when your body starts preparing for rest your hormone levels change and that can contribute to pain. For instance, cortisol levels drop when your body is preparing to sleep, that can cause your inflammation to rise and add more to your pain levels.

Your medication might wear off during the night as most people take them during the day. This can also be a factor of why your sciatica is worse at night.

Multiple Sclerosis And Mental Health: 3 Common Challenges

Multiple sclerosis affects everyone differently. If you or your loved one has MS, you areprobably familiar with symptoms such as difficulty walking, fatigue, andnumbness or tingling. These and other physical symptoms can be severe andlimiting. However, emotional changes and mental health challenges can bejust as disabling.

Rehabilitation neuropsychologist Meghan Beier, Ph.D., discusses three common mood and mental health concerns for people with MSand how to address them.

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A Few Ways To Calm The Stuart Anxiety

  • Draw on the things in your toolbox that have helped you through anxiety in the past.
  • Recognize the trigger and stay away from it for just a little while .
  • Be aware of your thoughts and emotions, and take care of them.

I think that the best letter in the above acronyms is the t. It means temporary. When you recognize these reactions for what they are, you can once again calm the associated anxiety.

APA ReferencePeterson, T. . Triggers Make Anxiety and PTSD Flare Up, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2022, August 17 from

Michelle David

I’m still looking for answers five years after the Boston Marathon bombing because it retriggered a smoke bombing I experienced in high school to no end. Fired my therapist when he treated my confessed need to buy body armor as a joke. I need the psychological protection that body armor would give because I am convinced that people are only out to kill each other in the wake of the bombing.

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Can Stress Cause Ms

MS Attack, MS Flare-Up | Mobility, Spasticity, and Hemifacial Spasms |Multiple Sclerosis

Studies have shown mixed results on whether stress causes MS. Earlier studies have suggested that MS lesions occur more often after a stressful life event, but this finding has not been proven.

Two areas of the stress response systemthe hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and the sympathetic nervous systemmay also be associated with MS. An earlier study suggests that people with MS may experience interruptions in communication between the immune system and these two areas.

People with MS often describe a link between stress and their experiences with MS. Some people with MS feel their MS was triggered by going through an exceptionally stressful period of time. Studies that involve more self-evaluation and subjective measures may help give insight into the link between stress and MS.

There is stronger evidence to support that prolonged stress plays a role in exacerbating MS in those who already have it. Some studies even suggest that stress management may be able to slow down the development of new MS lesions and help the person have fewer flare-ups.

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Take Care Of Your Whole Self To Reduce Ms Triggers

The Norton Neuroscience Institute Resource Center offers free classes and activities to help MS patients live more fully.

Your primary care provider can oversee the management of other diseases and health conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, thyroid disorder, depression and anxiety.

People with MS are more likely to experience depression and anxiety. Symptoms of depression, such as fatigue, decreased activity and mental changes, can overlap with symptoms of MS, which can make it hard to tell the difference between the two, according to Jocelyn.

Jocelyn lists five key components to wellness:

  • Healthy food choices
  • Attending to mental, emotional and spiritual health
  • Addressing other health conditions

Small changes can reduce MS triggers and have a significant impact on your overall health, according to Jocelyn.

For example, to improve your diet you could swap one sugary drink a day with water, or choose whole wheat bread or pasta, or brown rice, or eat a sweet potato rather than a regular baked potato.

To improve your physical activity, you could walk a little each day, gradually adding more as you are able. You could attend a yoga, tai chi or aquatics class offered through the Norton Neuroscience Institute Resource Center, or you can meet with a physical therapist to learn a strengthening or stretching program.

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Sciatica Risk Factors Include:

  • Aging

  • Poor body mechanics – If you do not make the right movements when you do things, you are very likely to put a lot of pressure on your nerves, and that can cause sciatic pain.

  • Poor posture – It is essential that you pay attention to your posture as it can cause injuries. If you are consistently in an awkward position, you may hurt your spine, and the damages will be long lasting.

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  • Being overweight – The more weight you have on your body, the more you strain your lower back. Being obese can cause lower back trauma and worsen your sciatica pain.

  • Trauma or injury on the lower back

  • Wear and tear related to sports or hobbies -Sports or activities that demand high physical activities can directly worsen your sciatica pain. It would be best to limit physical activity if you are facing sciatica pain.

  • Smoking during Pregnancy or childbirth – If a mother smokes during her pregnancy, she is most likely to give her child spine abnormalities when they are born.

  • Inherited Spine Abnormalities

  • Other conditions such as a tumor in the spine, spinal injury , infection, as well as disorders affecting the spine.

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    Q How To Stretch The Sciatic Nerve In Bed

    There are several stretches you can do in bed that might help your Sciatica. For instance, you can lie in your bed and then bend your knees in front of you.

    Then, you can cross your right ankle on your other knee and make a ‘4’ shape. Then cross your fingers under your left knee and pull it towards yourself.

    Hold this position for around 30 seconds and repeat the procedure for the other leg.

    Q What Causes Sciatica In The Buttocks

    Does Stress Cause Ms Flare Ups - (2)

    The Sciatica nerve originates from the buttocks and if it is pinched, patients are likely to experience great pain. The piriformis muscle in the buttocks presses on to the Sciatica that can increase pain levels.

    Furthermore, patients are also likely to experience numbness and tingling is they perform activities. However, there can be other reasons for pain in the buttock such as muscle strain, a herniated disc and a degenerative disc.

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    How Can I Prevent A Multiple Sclerosis Flare

    Disease-modifying therapies are the most effective way to reduce the number of flare-ups you experience. Leading a healthy lifestyle is also important. The choices you make can help slow disease progression. Good care can also lessen your symptoms and improve your quality of life.

    Lifestyle changes that can improve your condition include:

    • Eating a healthy diet: There is no magic MS diet. Experts recommend a balanced diet that includes lots of fruit and vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats and lean protein. You should also limit your intake of added sugars, unhealthy fats and processed foods.
    • Getting regular exercise: Multiple sclerosis can cause muscle weakness, loss of balance and difficulty walking. Aerobic exercise, flexibility and strength training are essential to help keep muscles strong and maintain physical function.
    • Managing stress: Stress can take a physical and emotional toll. It can also interfere with sleep, which can worsen MS-related fatigue. Its important to find ways to manage stress such as yoga, meditation, exercise, and working with a mental health provider.
    • Not smoking and limiting alcohol intake: Smoking and alcohol are linked to worsening MS symptoms and could speed the disease’s progression. Quitting smoking will support your health.

    The Stress Of Living With Ms

    Living with MS means that you may have to face health limitations, such as problems with mobility, bladder issues, and impaired vision, which can cause frustration and stress. But there are many other concerns those with MS face that factor into the stress of living with this disease as well:

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    • The unpredictable nature of MS
    • Adapting to new symptoms
    • Concerns about your job

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    Common Medications To Treat Arthritis Flares

    OA patients might just need some OTC pain-relieving medication such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen. Dr. Bose also recommends topical gels and lotions like diclofenac gel or 2 Old Goats. If that doesnt work, Dr. Ashany says joint injections of steroids may be given. RA flares are more complicated. In inflammatory arthritis, steroids are often used to try to quickly bring a flare under control, Dr. Ashany says. If only one joint is involved a steroid can be given by injection, but otherwise it can be taken orally .

    In inflammatory arthritis, if flares continue to occur, this indicates that the patients regimen of maintenance medication is not adequate, Dr. Ashany says. This may lead to addition of a medication, switching one drug for another or increasing the dose of medication that the patient is currently taking.

    How Is Multiple Sclerosis Diagnosed

    multiple sclerosis flare up

    No one test can provide a definitive MS diagnosis. To understand whats causing symptoms, your healthcare provider will do a physical exam. You may also have blood tests and imaging tests, such as MRI. An MRI looks for evidence of lesions in the brain or spinal cord that indicate multiple sclerosis. Lesions develop as a result of damage to the myelin sheath surrounding the nerves. A spinal tap may also need to be done.

    If these tests dont provide a clear answer, your neurologist may recommend an evoked potentials test. This test checks your nerve function by measuring electrical activity in the brain and spinal cord.

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    Stopping Medications Too Soon

    Sometimes, MS medications can cause side effects. They may also not seem as effective as youd hope. But this doesnt mean you should stop taking the medications without your doctors approval. Stopping them can increase your risk of flare-ups or relapses.

    How to avoid: Dont stop taking your medications without talking to your doctor. Though you may not realize it, these treatments are often working to prevent damage, reduce relapses, and stop new lesion development.

    What Is An Anxiety Flare

    An anxiety flare-up is an unexpected return of anxiety after you thought you had worked through it. Anxiety never fully disappears from anyone’s life, but you may have been sailing through your life, unburdened by constant anxious thoughts and feelings and doing things you want to do, when seemingly out of the blue, anxiety jumps into your path and tries to control you again. Despite how it may feel, it’s not a sign that you’re doomed to a life of high anxiety. When you gain a broader perspective on what an anxiety flare-up is, you can take steps to handle it and move forward again.

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    What Is The Link Between Multiple Sclerosis And Stress

    A number of published papers have shown that stress affects RRMS. Here are a few:

    • At UCLA, studies showed stress can precipitate MS relapses and worsening disability through a variety of mechanisms including excessive inflammatory response and worsening degeneration. The immune system balance of Th1 versus Th2 cytokines is intimately involved in the development of relapses in people with MS.
    • In Switzerland, researchers studied 14 healthy medical students to see whether a psychologically stressful event could modify Th1 cytokines levels. The students showed a significant increase of an inflammatory cytokine starting the next day this cytokine has been shown to be elevated in MS relapses.
    • In Pittsburgh, a study by the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh followed 50 women with MS to see how major life events affected their MS disease activity. Nearly half of all major life events were followed within six weeks by a relapse.
    • US researchers have studied the development of new MRI lesions in 36 people with MS and correlated these with stressful life events. After major life stresses, people were roughly 1.6 times more likely to develop a new lesion in the next eight weeks. This study also noted that those with coping mechanisms could reduce this risk.
    • In 2006, the same research group summarized the effects of stress on MS:

    What Does Sciatica Pain Feel Like

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    In most cases, sciatica pain feels like a shooting pain that starts from the lower back or the buttock. It radiates through the back or the front of the leg.

    People have also reported it to be a burning sensation that can be felt throughout the leg. In other cases, patients have also reported a feeling of numbness.

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    How Can I Tell If I Have Stress

    Medically speaking, stress causes changes in your blood pressure, heart rate and metabolism. You may not notice these changes yourself. In the short-term, these responses can improve your physical and mental performance to cope with immediate crises – the ‘fight or flight’ response. However, left unchecked, excessive stress can have negative effects on physical and emotional health, including a direct effect on levels of fatigue.

    Everybody reacts differently to stress, but there are common symptoms:

    • Physical – increased levels of sweating, muscle tightness, regular headaches, constipation or diarrhoea.
    • Emotional – irritability, reduced concentration, feeling overwhelmed, problems making decisions, decreased confidence, low mood.
    • Behavioural – difficulty sleeping, changes in appetite, loss of libido, increased drinking or smoking and reduced willingness to socialise.


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