Negotiating Pain

Foot and Leg Pain
I experience “numbness and tingling” sensations in my feet and up my legs every day. This was my first symptom of MS, and it looks like it’s here to stay. Over the years, I have found a number of ways of reducing pain. Baclofen helps. There are also non-prescription alterantives that can provide pain relief. Here are my top strategies for taming the pain, in order of discovery.
4. Toe Socks. Yes, there are such things. And yes, they can help reduce foot and leg pain. They help me, anyway. If you  experience “pins and needles” pain in your feet and up your legs, read on:
The other night I was in intense pain; my legs were aching with bee-sting intensity. I don’t know why I asked for toe socks, but as soon as my husband slipped them on my feet, I felt instant relief. I think, in my case, my hyper-sensative MS-addled nerves got all rattled because my pinky toe tucks against my neighboring toe, which triggered a false neurological signal that confused proximity with pain. Once my toes were separated in the toe socks, the pain signals died down. From now on I’ll take my yoga teacher more seriously as she encourages us to spread our toes. (see 4.)

Has anyone else tried toe socks?

3. Vibrating Foot Massager. Technically, I have very little ability to perceive vibration in my feet and legs. The first time a neurologist whipped out one of those tuning forks at an exam, I didn’t know I was supposed to feel vibration; when asked how it felt, I said it felt cold. I don’t know why feeling less vibration translates into feeling more pain, but it does. Luckily, the converse applies as well; feeling more vibration translates into feeling less pain. I use an iJoy Equalizer I got from Sharper Image, which I believe has since gone out of business. There are other vibrating foot massagers out there, in prices that range from 19.99 to over $300. They shake things up, causing immediate relief.
2. Legs Up Against the Wall. My foot and leg pain literally drains away when I rest my legs up against the wall. To enter this position correctly: sit with your right side against the wall, knees bent; your leg and hip should be in direct contact with the wall. Lower your back onto the floor. Raise/straighten your legs, so that the bottoms of your feet are facing the celing. Now swivel 90 degrees, so your head is pointing toward the middle of the room, while the backs of your legs and your sitting bones are in direct contact with the wall. You should feel an immediate draining of pain. Hold this position, with your legs against the wall, for only as long as it is comfortable. For me, that’s about two minutes or so. Don’t worry; the soothing effects will linger a while.

1. Yoga. My first thought on diagnosis was that yoga could somehow cure me; that being a more spiritual person could make me a disease free person. Nonsense. I will never know how much yoga has helped; but I can say, without reservation, that yoga has made me more supple, which helps with spasticity, and has given me great joy, which helps with life generally. As someone who experiences a lot of pain by merely standing, I try to remember how it feels to stand in tree pose at the yoga studio when I’m stuck on a line in the store.

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2 thoughts on “Negotiating Pain

  1. I have 3 pairs of toe socks! They are so comfy. Now I get the phrase “little pigs in a blanket.”

    My rainbow striped pair came from Luc via a Christmas stocking.

    The other two were purchsed for Pilates. These are a subdued black with minimal detailing. These are made of organic cotton and have a non-slip sole with a “five toe design to spread your toes.”

    Let me know if you like these (and check out those candy cane holiday socks!):

    1. Alison, the organic toe sox you sent from Montreal totally outclass the white gym class-ish toe socks I’ve been wearing. As usual, your fashion sense blows me away. As does your generosity. I am so very lucky those ladies at Harvest States thought we looked alike, and forced us to meet. And flattered.

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