Connect with others who understand.

sign up log in
Resources
About MyMSTeam

Connect with others who understand.

sign up log in
Resources
About MyMSTeam

MS and Vibrating Sensations

Updated on May 10, 2022
Medically reviewed by
Joseph V. Campellone, M.D.
Article written by
Sage Salvo

What It Feels Like | How Common Is It? | Causes | Management | Support

A tremor is one of the common symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS). Some people with MS experience vibration sensations without physical movements like a twitching eye or leg. “Before I was diagnosed with MS, I felt like I was sitting on a pager that was under my couch cushions,” one MyMSTeam member shared.

In medical conversations, vibration is often referred to as internal tremor or IT. Scientists define internal tremor as feelings of tremors, shaking, or vibrations in the body that are not caused by actual movements.

What Does Vibration in Multiple Sclerosis Feel Like?

The vibrating sensation people with MS feel generally isn’t painful, but it can be annoying or confusing. “It's like throbbing vibrations,” one MyMSTeam member described. “It's not too bad, but I could really do without it.”

You may feel the vibrating sensation in different parts of your body, although people with MS usually have tremors in their feet and legs. “I feel it a lot at night or when I'm lying around for a while,” one MyMSTeam member explained. “I can feel the lower half of my body vibrating like I'm lying on a vibrating bed.”

Other members experience their internal tremor as a “slapping” sensation inside the chest, abdomen, back, or limbs. “I had a constant slapping feeling that started in my hands and feet that eventually moved to my lower legs and arms,” one member wrote. “I have those symptoms too, especially in my lower back area,” another said.

How Common Is a Vibrating Sensation With MS?

A 2015 study of people with several chronic conditions found that over a third of respondents with MS (36 percent) experienced internal tremor — a significantly higher rate than the 6 percent rate found in the general population. The vast majority of respondents (88 percent) said the internal tremor began a year or more after their other symptoms began.

The frequency of internal tremor can vary between people. For example, almost 32 percent of respondents in the above study said that they felt the vibrating sensation once per day, while 29 percent said it occurred two to three times per week, and 39 percent experienced it four to seven times a week.

What Causes Vibrating Sensations in Multiple Sclerosis?

MS is an autoimmune disease that occurs when the immune system attacks the myelin in the central nervous system, which includes the brain and spinal cord, causing damaged areas (lesions). Once a person with MS develops lesions in the areas that control movement, they may start experiencing dysfunctions such as tremor, speech problems, and eye twitches.

More work is needed to clarify how and why people with multiple sclerosis experience internal tremors. That said, doctors believe internal tremors may have the same root cause as visible tremor: damage to the parts of the brain that control movement (the cerebellum and thalamus) and to the nerve fibers within the spinal cord. Research also indicates that people who experience visible tremor (between 25 percent and 58 percent of MS cases) are significantly more likely to feel a vibrating sensation.

It’s important to note that vibrating sensations are also seen in other chronic health conditions, including Parkinson’s disease and essential tremor disorder. If you experience any unusual sensations, talk to your health care provider or a neurologist. They will be able to identify the cause of these sensations and work with you to find the best way of managing them. To figure out which condition is causing internal tremor, doctors might review your other symptoms.

In MS, these symptoms generally include motor and sensory symptoms, such as:

  • Numbness
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Constipation
  • Incontinence
  • Dizziness
  • Blurry vision (optic neuritis)
  • Muscle spasticity
  • Unsteady gait
  • Slurred speech
  • Electric-shock sensations (Lhermitte’s sign)

Managing Vibrating Sensations in MS

Vibrating sensations can be distracting and annoying, but they may not necessarily be painful. You may not need any immediate relief from internal tremors. However, the symptom may indicate damage to your central nervous system and should be taken seriously. If you’re experiencing vibrating, prickling, or tingling sensations (also called paresthesia) that align with the neurological symptoms of MS, you may want to ask your doctor or neurology expert for medical advice.

There are no guaranteed treatments for tremor in MS, but taking steps to prevent or slow the progression of the disease may help.

Anxiety and Stress Reduction

One study found that participants with MS and internal tremor reported significantly higher anxiety levels than those with MS without internal tremor. As one MyMSTeam member shared of this sensation, “I get it at night … usually at the end of the day, when I've done way too much.”

Stress is also a frequent cause of MS pseudo-exacerbations (a temporary period of worsening symptoms). These pseudo-exacerbations can look and feel like relapsing. However, they aren’t generally associated with an increase in disease activity, inflammation, or nerve damage. Instead, these exacerbations briefly worsen MS symptoms after periods of stress, illness, or excessive heat.

Managing stress through techniques such as yoga, exercise, medication, or therapy is an important part of keeping MS symptoms under control.

Medication

Currently, there are no medications approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to manage MS tremor, though some drugs have been found to have a positive side effect on the symptom. For example, hydroxyzine (Atarax) may help alleviate stress-exacerbated tremor, while clonazepam (Klonopin) can lessen anxiety as a risk factor.

Other Treatments

Other treatment options for tremor include physical therapy, neurosurgery, and electrode implants. However, these approaches may be too extreme for someone with MS who is only experiencing a vibrating sensation. Talk to your health care provider about what you can do to safely manage your symptoms, slow the progression of your MS, and improve your quality of life.

Meet Your Team

MyMSTeam is the social media network designed to support people who have multiple sclerosis and their loved ones. This platform connects more than 187,000 people who share a diagnosis of MS and understand the unique challenges of living with MS. By signing up for a free account, you’ll have the opportunity to share your thoughts and experiences with people who can truly relate to your experience.

Have you ever experienced a vibrating sensation with MS? Share your experiences in the comments below or by posting on MyMSTeam.

All updates must be accompanied by text or a picture.
Joseph V. Campellone, M.D. is board-certified in neurology, neuromuscular disease, and electrodiagnostic medicine. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Learn more about him here.
Sage Salvo is a content creator who specializes in developing savvy, SEO-aware content strategies and top notch ghostwritten articles for a wide variety of industry niches. Learn more about her here.

Related articles

Learn what the MS hug is, what the symptoms are, and what causes it.

The MS Hug Explained: Description, Symptoms, and Causes

Learn what the MS hug is, what the symptoms are, and what causes it.
If you're living with multiple sclerosis (MS), you may wonder how moderate or heavy alcohol consumption could affect your disease and overall well-being.

MS and Alcohol: What Are the Effects?

If you're living with multiple sclerosis (MS), you may wonder how moderate or heavy alcohol consumption could affect your disease and overall well-being.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a neurological condition that disrupts the signals between your brain...

Bladder Spasms and MS: Understanding the Connection

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a neurological condition that disrupts the signals between your brain...
Muscle spasms are common among people with multiple sclerosis (MS), and they can feel worse at...

Why Are MS Muscle Spasms Worse at Night?

Muscle spasms are common among people with multiple sclerosis (MS), and they can feel worse at...
If you’re sensitive to temperatures — especially heat — and your multiple sclerosis (MS) symptoms...

MS and Fever: Managing Symptoms and Body Temperature

If you’re sensitive to temperatures — especially heat — and your multiple sclerosis (MS) symptoms...
As many as 95 percent of people with multiple sclerosis (MS) experience fatigue. Measuring...

How Is MS Fatigue Measured?

As many as 95 percent of people with multiple sclerosis (MS) experience fatigue. Measuring...

Recent articles

Many members of MyMSTeam have been asking each other about the Wahls Protocol — a diet and...

MyMSTeam Interviews Dr. Terry Wahls

Many members of MyMSTeam have been asking each other about the Wahls Protocol — a diet and...
There is currently no single, definitive test that allows doctors to diagnose multiple sclerosis...

Blood Tests for Multiple Sclerosis: Can They Help Diagnose MS?

There is currently no single, definitive test that allows doctors to diagnose multiple sclerosis...
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved updated boosters for messenger RNA...

New COVID-19 Vaccine Boosters for Omicron: What To Know if You Have MS

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved updated boosters for messenger RNA...
A person can develop multiple sclerosis (MS) at any age, but the condition is most often...

What Is the Average Age for a Multiple Sclerosis Diagnosis?

A person can develop multiple sclerosis (MS) at any age, but the condition is most often...
In partnership with GoodRx
Neuropathic pain is estimated to affect anywhere from 30 percent to 90 percent of people with...

Opioid Problems and MS

Neuropathic pain is estimated to affect anywhere from 30 percent to 90 percent of people with...
MyMSTeam My multiple sclerosis Team

Thank you for subscribing!

Become a member to get even more:

sign up for free

close