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Worried about symptoms (?MS) or is it just stress?

(38 Posts)
WorriedOrStressed Tue 03-May-16 14:54:05

Name changed as I am a regular poster and possibly identifiable.

I'm the first to admit I've been under a lot of stress over the last few years and have been struggling with my health for the last few months which has left me fatigued and exhausted after minimal physical exertion.

However, I have been experiencing some worrying symptoms which my GP puts down to the 'stress' I've been under.

For example, I've had numbness in my left fingers for about 12 months now, this is now in my right hand/arm too and I also have pins and needles intermittently in my feet. I feel really 'wooly' in my head (just not with it), muddle my words, and at times very clumsy/off balance when I walk. My sight (I'm short sighted) has recently deteriorated and I see 'double' on and off. A few years ago I had some physio for leg weakness (felt as though my leg was about to 'give way'), this has now resolved though. I have completely lost my libido, have urinary incontinence symptoms and am really intolerant of heat.

I am worried these may be symptoms of MS - I had glandular fever in my teens and believe there is an anecdotal link.

Because I've also had a rash on my face which seems to flare on and off, GP has tested for SLE but results were normal, as well as other bloods for more routine stuff (thyroid function, CRP, FBC, etc) which, again, were reassuring.

GP has suggested some nerve studies, even though he maintains its all stress-related which makes me feel like I've got an uphill struggle on my hands and exhausts me further. I wonder whether I should be pushing for a neuro referral as none of this feels 'right' and DH is concerned too that I've not been myself for a while now.

Any thoughts/advice?

GEM3A Tue 03-May-16 16:56:15

Hi, I have experienced similar to you (although my symptoms have never seemed as severe or persistent as yours). I get a strange tingling sensation in my leg which comes and goes (only tend to notice if I think about it but once I notice it it takes me months to 'forget' about it if that makes sense?). This sensation then panics me and then I start to notice more symptoms - the Woolley head, muscle twitches, blurred vision on one occasion when I was really worked up.

I have previously convinced myself it was MS. The more I worried and got stressed about it the worse the symptoms seemed to be. I spoke to the GP about my concerns but he told me it was probably anxiety because of my job even tho i did try and explain i didn't feel stressed at work and I enjoy my job. The GP sent me on my way with a leaflet about stress and anxiety and that was that.

I have never pushed for further tests as when I eventually started to accept I needed to trust the GP and it was probably anxiety (even tho I didn't feel particularly anxious or stressed) the symptoms seemed to lessen until I forget about them and everything seems back to 'normal'. Although I do I still worry and seem to be on the look out for symptoms.

Because your symptoms do seem more severe and persistent than mine I think I would definitely push for a referral. If the results are clear then you know you're probably dealing with stress/anxiety related symptoms which you can start addressing. If you're anything like me the not knowing is likely to cause more stress and more symptoms.

Hope you're feeling better soon.

WorriedOrStressed Tue 03-May-16 17:09:28

Thank you for replying Gem

Because your symptoms do seem more severe and persistent than mine I think I would definitely push for a referral.
I agree and am going to go back to GP perhaps with DH too for back-up/support.

If you're anything like me the not knowing is likely to cause more stress and more symptoms.

Yes this is it. To be frank I'd be happy to pay for referral/MRI if necessary if it'll give reassurance or confirm my fears.

It's not that I want a diagnosis I just want to know what on earth is going on.

Thanks again.

GEM3A Tue 03-May-16 17:29:06

I know how you feel about not wanting a diagnosis but wanting to know what's causing the symptoms.

I genuinely started to drive myself crazy not knowing if my symptoms were real or stress related. The only reassurance my GP gave me was 'I don't think it's anything sinister' but never did any tests to prove otherwise. This is what I struggled with most as I just needed that peace of mind. In my head I was convinced it was MS and I left the GP appointment with a leaflet on anxiety which didnt really do much to put my mind at rest!

Overtime I have worried less about it but part of me does wonder if I should have pushed more as it would have saved months of stress and worrying about the unknown/self diagnosis but i didnt want to be that nuisance patient with anxiety. It's a bit of a vicious cycle! Good luck, hope you get some answers.

NanTheWiser Tue 03-May-16 18:16:38

Did your blood test include blood glucose? Some of those symptoms can arise from insulin resistance, leading to diabetes. I have the tingling in feet and legs, and will be seeing GP next week for blood tests, as 2 years ago, my HBA1C was borderline for prediabetes.

WorriedOrStressed Tue 03-May-16 18:40:03

I'd assume so Nan as he ran a whole host of them, but I will double check. Thank you.

LivingInMidnight Tue 03-May-16 20:18:46

MS doesn't tend to be symmetrical, that could be why your GP isn't too worried as you have symptoms in both hands, both feet etc.

WorriedOrStressed Tue 03-May-16 20:24:11

That's interesting/reassuring midnight. It's usually my left hand that's the problem (and has been for 12+ months) and my right foot over last few weeks. Sometimes I do have numbness in right arm/hand too though.

LivingInMidnight Tue 03-May-16 20:38:40

If I were you I'd just go and ask if you can have a nerve conduction study on your left hand, and if that doesn't show anything you can go back and say "well I've tried this and it doesn't show anything, what else could it be?" And work from there. Everything is a slow process in the NHS though, it takes a while to get used to it. What you've described are symptoms of loads of different illnesses, unfortunately.

WorriedOrStressed Tue 03-May-16 20:54:52

Good advice, thank you livinginmidnight, I appreciate you responding. I work in the NHS clinically so appreciate its limitations.

MissTriggs Tue 03-May-16 21:16:33

Worried, my neurologist sent me on to an osteopath. She knew easily that my bilateral tingling was coming from the soft tissue around the neck

He said that nerve conduction studies would not be useful for me as there was no" fixed deficit" ie I could flex the fingers, spread them, etc

I had a" dynamic ultasound" in the end which proved that the bundle of arteries and nerves was getting squashed

Appreciate anecdotes can be unhelpful but I suppose soft tissue conditions may be something to look at? and stress affects posture which makes soft tissue injury worse? It might be worth going back to the physio

MissTriggs Tue 03-May-16 21:20:23

.... Or see if an osteopath can identify ?

TheRollingCrone Tue 03-May-16 21:25:25

I had the same last year, along with intermittent speech aphasia and crippling joint pain and exhaustion.
Turned out I had no Vitamin D , I think a recent study showed a possible correlation between Vit D defiency and MS.

Openmindedmonkey Tue 03-May-16 21:37:00

There are a few conditions which can cause symptoms like these, one being fibromyalgia - I have it & have all those that you mention, Inc 'brain fog' & visual disturbance.
(I'm not a clinician though, so take this with a pinch of salt).
Talk to your GP & ask for more bloods, Inc vit D & iron, b12, white calls etc etc, but include Fibro in your discussion; some GPs refer to a rheumatologist for diagnosis.
Good luck.

WorriedOrStressed Tue 03-May-16 22:01:43

Thank you all for your replies. Lots of food for thought. Going to ask him to confirm what bloods have and have not been done and go from there.

WorriedOrStressed Thu 05-May-16 13:31:57

Just wanted to update. Saw my GP this morning (wrote him a letter with all my symptoms/relevant past information) and he told me I need to see a neurologist/have a scan as symptoms are consistent with a neurological condition, especially as they've worsened since a recent infection I've had. I've been referred. Its scary but need to see this as a positive step.

Yankeepoodle Thu 05-May-16 21:23:52

Hi worried, sorry to hear what you're going through. I had similar symptoms and it turned out to be MS. For balance, my brother had similar symptoms and his was down to stress (had an MRI to rule out anything else). My symptoms were symmetrical and I too thought it was therefore unlikely to be MS but I was wrong, so anyone that reads this in the future, please don't ignore and make sure you see your GP.

worried it's good that you're being referred; expect a wait though. There's still a very good chance it's nothing to be concerned about. If it does turn out to be MS, well, yes, it's a crap disease, but there are many, many worse things to have. It's also a promising time for people with MS. There are lots of very effective treatments now and more arriving imminently. I hope you don't have it, but if you do, there's plenty to feel hopeful about. Good luckflowers

WorriedOrStressed Fri 06-May-16 08:47:10

Yankee thank you for your comments and giving some balance/positivity to the possible situation. I was quite upset/in shock yesterday but feeling more pragmatic today and am trying to keep myself occupied and positive. I hope you are doing well flowers

weegiemum Fri 06-May-16 08:54:31

I'd push for a neuro referral - there's a long wait in many places for EMG (nerve conduction tests) so it would be good to get on the list asap if your GP is suggesting it.

Like others have said, MS isn't usually symmetrical but there are many (much rarer) neuropathic conditions which have all your symptoms, including CIDP, which I have. My symptoms started off mildly like yours for a long time and gradually got so severe I couldn't walk for a while (though I am much improved now). A lot of these things respond well to treatment but it is better the earlier treatment can start, before more damage is done.

I do hope your symptoms are "only" stress but if not, better getting a diagnosis earlier rather than later. All the best.

weegiemum Fri 06-May-16 08:58:44

Also, my symptoms worsened after a viral infection and I am treated with immune-supporting treatment (IVIg) which makes a huge difference. It really sounds like you need to be seen soon!

WorriedOrStressed Fri 06-May-16 09:07:25

weegie thank you. Yes he has referred me to neuro. Just spoken to work who are going to get occupational health involved their end. As I work for NHS this might help too as where I work has a specialist neuro centre.

weegiemum Fri 06-May-16 09:21:34

Its good to be seen by a dedicated neuro centre (I was, Glasgow is really good for that) as they have all the tests available on site, so the process is a lot quicker.

I had ultrasound, MRI, CT scans, thousands* of blood tests and a lumbar puncture as well as the EMG tests.

*only a slight exaggeration!

KittyKrap Fri 06-May-16 10:02:09

Sorry to butt in but I second the vitamin D test. Apparently it's fairly expensive on the NHS (?) so they don't routinely test. My GP did one first which showed I was Vit D of about 12, the average is 30-40 and I had every symptom you described and yes I thought I was going mad or had something seriously wrong.

Good luck cake

WorriedOrStressed Fri 06-May-16 10:56:23

Kitty GP tells me he has checked for deficincies already to rule that sort of thing out. I believe it's because it's worsened since a recent infection that he is thinking neurological causation.

WorriedOrStressed Fri 06-May-16 11:24:39

Re the Vit D, there appears a correlation between low vit D and MS. Thus low Vit D findings imo should not preclude neuro referral as MS may be underlying. The research suggests reduced sun exposure in childhood may be a causal link to later diagnosis with MS.

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