Written by MasterHealth Staff
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Lhermitte’s sign occurs most frequently in MS patients, and is a form of dysesthesia (a.k.a abnormal sensation) described as an electric shock sensation that travels down the spine, and sometimes into the arms and legs when the chin is tucked towards the chest.
Lhermitte’s sign is more common in people with relapsing-remitting MS (RR-MS), and occurs as a result of some form of trauma along the spine, such as a MS lesion.
Yes. Although Lhermitte’s sign is more common in people living with MS, it can also occur in other conditions as well.
The most common non-MS causes are transverse myelitis or some form of injury to the nerves of the cervical spine (a.k.a the spine of the neck).
Many people with MS describe these and other abnormal nerve sensations as ‘zingers’ or ‘ms zing’ because of the abrupt and often intense nature of them.
Lhermitte’s sign is most often described within a range of mildly uncomfortable to moderately painful shooting or buzzing sensation that travels along the spine and sometimes into the arms and legs.
You can try the Lhermitte’s sign test to see if you experience this symptom by bending your head forward, tucking your chin towards your chest.
You may feel a stretch in the back of your neck which is normal, but if you experience any abnormal nerve-like sensation that travels down your spine, this is a positive Lhermitte’s sign.
Lhermitte’s sign has most often been reported as being brief, lasting only a few seconds once the chin is lifted off the chest back into a normal position.
While the sensation is brief, it can and often does recur for at least a few days, but possibly longer.
For relief from Lhermitte’s sign, it’s best to start living an anti-inflammatory lifestyle to reduce the occurrence or recurrence of any MS flare-ups. This may include an anti-inflammatory diet, stress management tools, or an exercise routine.
The Wahls Protocol® is a great place to start if you’re wishing to reduce the effects of inflammation on your MS.
The following list includes examples of some anti-inflammatory habits included in the The Wahls Protocol® app, which can be customized to send you daily reminders to complete:
- Eliminating inflammatory foods, such as processed or refined foods, refined sugars and sweeteners, dairy, gluten, and any food sensitivities.
- Increase circulation of blood and lymphatic fluid through exercise, dry brushing, warm or cold compresses (alone or alternating), the use of vibration plates, and/or stretching.
- Relaxation through mindfulness and gratitude practice, increased social connection, and/or community involvement.
- Reduce nerve irritation by stretching, practicing gentle yoga or physiotherapy and electrical stimulation therapy.
- 8-9 hours of good quality sleep, and going to sleep by 10pm.
- Detoxification of inflammatory pollutants through the use of herbs and spices.
- Postural exercises and correction.
- Wear a neck brace to prevent you from moving your neck if the pain is unbearable.
“I had told my primary care doctor that when I’m laying down and breathe in really deep, my rib cage vibrates…And I didn’t know it at the time, I was kinda describing it wrong. The reason it was doing that was because as I would breathe deep, my chin would get closer to my chest and whenever I’d do that there’s a vibration that runs down my spine…I looked it up and almost every result on google is “you might have MS.”
–Sarah Kate, living with MS
“When i was first diagnosed, about a month later I noticed I started getting an electric shock feeling through my back into my legs whenever I would move my neck certain ways. And it started to get worse after, you know a month, two months. So I spoke to my specialist about it and he explained to me that it’s something called ‘Lhermitte’s sign.’… It’s not something I really suffer with anymore, I just find that if I’ve been our walking for a long time or if i’ve been running on the treadmill, I kind of get an electric vibrating shock throughout my legs and if i just rest for about half an hour it eventually starts to go away… It’s really uncomfortable to deal with, especially when you’re suffering from it all the time, you’re moving your neck and you’re getting these electric shocks.”
–Adria Yusuf, female living with MS
“The first time I felt it was when I looked down at my desk in school. It was an odd electric shock sensation that ran from the top of my neck down to the bottom of my spine, like hitting your funny-bone. It recurred for maybe a month or two and never again since (it’s been over 10 years).”
-Lidija, female patient living with MS, strictly following the Wahls Diet™ for 3 years.
“This symptom was one of the first to surface at the onset of my MS and was one that I shrugged off as an insignificant nuisance. Lhermitte’s and I have now been well acquainted for 9 years and counting.”
Lhermitte’s sign is a neurological symptom resulting most commonly from MS, but can occur less frequently from other conditions.
These electric-shock sensations can range from mildly uncomfortable to extremely painful, and can be relieved using techniques that reduce inflammation in the body.
To get started on the right foot in setting habits that reduce inflammation, The Wahls Protocol mobile program is a fantastic place to start.
You’ll get your own personalized plan with guidance from Dr. Wahls’ best practices, recommendations of the key habits you should include in your daily routine, and suggested starting points for those habits.
Within the program, you’ll also find a community of others following the protocol and a coach to help keep you consistent with your health goals so you can start feeling better, faster!