Could these symptoms be MS?

Hi all! Thanks in advance to anyone who responds. For ref. I’m a 37-year-old mum of two.

Had an acute attack of bilateral uveitis out of nowhere about 4 months ago. I was treated, and there were lots of questions about pre-existing autoimmune disorders, but I’ve never had any.

Around the same time, I started having acute episodes of vomiting, five in total over about five months. I was given a full blood count and tested for Lyme disease - nothing turned up.

Since the start of the year I’ve also been having neck and shoulder pain, and was diagnosed with disc compression after x-rays. I’m now having frequent nerve pain and weakness in my right arm and hand.

Obviously, these issues could be (and probably are!) entirely unconnected. But my uncle has MS, and knowing what little I do know about the condition, some small alarm bells have been sounding. The doctors I’ve seen have been very nice and very overstretched. I don’t want to be a hypochondriac, but if these symptoms sound like they could be an indicator of MS, I’d be a bit more proactive about flagging them up to my GP. I know how important early diagnosis is.

Any thoughts gratefully received.

Pain caused by CNS problems tends to feel pretty different from ‘normal’ pain. It doesn’t feel the same and it doesn’t usually respond to normal painkillers (NSAIDs, paracetamol etc). And as far as I know, MS doesn’t typically cause vomiting either. But other auto-immune mess-ups are available, of course, as you know already from the uveitis: MS is not the only show in town. I am sorry that you are being an interesting case - no one wants to be one of those. Fingers crossed that things settle down and you can get on with your busy life. In the meantime, keep notes, I would suggest.

Hello Emma

As you’ve said, your various symptoms might be connected or not. Equally, they could be neurological in origin or not. And assuming they are neurological, they could be MS. Or not.

The problem is that there are so many symptoms associated with MS, almost all of which are also shared with other diagnoses. So the chances of you having MS are possible, maybe unlikely, definitely not probable.

There would be no value in one of us telling you your symptoms do or don’t sound like MS. Basically, you need to see your GP (or at least have a phone consultation!) and see what s/he thinks. In all likelihood, you’ll get the GP to give you a referral to a neurologist, but you could have a long wait for an appointment.

But irrespective of that, why not start the ball rolling by talking to your GP. Before you do, write yourself a timeline of what’s happened to you and when. That will help.

By the way, having an uncle with MS is not likely to statistically increase your likelihood of also having it. Have a look at: Risk of developing MS | MS Trust for the risk factors dependent on relatives having MS. Btw, the MS Trust is an excellent source of information about MS.

By all means, continue talking to us here, we’ll try to answer questions and if possible, help you out with information about MS and the general diagnostic process.