Dull Babinski?

Hi, I have just got back my Physio letter and she says I have a dull babinski on left and right. I know the babinski is the abnormal up toe when they scratch the bottom of your foot and is pretty conclusive of neuro probs, but I didn’t think anything happened when she scratched me. So wondering if it means something else, or just that it was so mild I couldn’t see or feel it. Does it still point to MS? Thanks Leah :slight_smile:

Hi, possibly…but then possibly not as well.

MS can be very difficult to diagnose sometimes. You need more tests and follow ups. Have you got another appointment in the offing or any other tests?


Hi Leah

I don’t know, but dull COULD mean that there was no/ little response, which would tie in with you thinking that nothing much happened. Dull can be used in that way in medical terminology. Toes going up is a sign of neuro problems but the normal response is toes going down so I’m not sure what it means if they don’t do either! Do you have problems with sensation in your feet? As you know, I’m somewhat new to all this, too but I don’t think a positive Babininsky is always there in MS - as with everything else, it depends where the lesions are. I also wonder if it matters exactly how the ‘scratching’ is done. An osteopath tried it on me and scratched the whole length of my foot. I think my toes went up but can’t quite remember - she did ask my GP to make a neuro referral because of it, though. Then, when the neuro did it he just scraped part way up my foot and everything was fine. I don’t know if he was just better at conducting the test or if something had changed in that time!

I don’t know if that helps at all but hugs to you anyway.

Lilacgirl x

Hi Poll, yes I have my first Neuro appt on Friday (well first since this re-referral post optic neuritis and it’s with a different neuro). I haven’t had an MRI so think that may be forthcoming. I do know that the Physio (who is a specialist neuro Physio) said that if I wasn’t already going to a neuro she’d have referred me. Her letter says: her reflexes on the left were brisk at knee jerk and plantar with a dull babinski on left and right. hi Lilacgirl - I did wonder if that’s what it meant, as far as I knew there was literally no response, on both sides. I’ve got to learn to stop analysing it, and let the neuro decide what it means (think I must be a control freak! Lol) Leah :slight_smile:

Oh, and no no problems with sensation on my feet :slight_smile:

There are two Babinskis - same guy, different things.

Babinski Reflex is when a scratch action on the sole of your foot makes the big toe turn up.

Babinski’s Sign is when the big toe turns upward when you are standing bare-footed.

Either is an indicator of spinal problems.
So, you could have the Sign, but not the Reflex.

This is something that you must tell the Neuro on Friday.
Have the letter from the Physio with you, but dont just hand it over.
Make sure you can slip shoes and socks off real fast - because the Neuro may want to see for him/her self.


Hi DrGeoff, Thanks, I plan to take the letter with me, but I am hoping he has the letter already because she said she would send him and my GP copies too. So am I right in saying that you think she means that I either have the scratch or stand babinski? Rather than dull meaning not there? Thanks again, I shall let you all know what happens on Friday. Leah :slight_smile:

Yes, Leah

Probably you have a mild version of one or the other. I have the Sign on my left foot, but is is mild until I am on my back in bed - then it is obvious.

Do tell us what happens on Friday.


Thanks Geoff. Leah :slight_smile:

Hi all, Sorry I haven’t been on for a while to reply, things got a bit on top of me, and I had to force myself to think about other stuff, and ignore all of this just to preserve my sanity! Feeling much more on top of things now, and more able to cope, so thought I’d post as promised. I had my neuro appointment back in the middle of March and it was very different to the appointments I had had before. I was seen by the specialist registrar who spent lots of time with me, and asked me all about the symptoms I have experienced over the last few years. She said the electric shock in my leg I had for a while in January was a L’Hermitte’s, and seemed to acknowledge the weakness in my left leg and arm. She basically said that she felt the the cause was demyelination. She thinks when I had the problems with weakness in 2010/2011 that it was CIS, despite me having a clear brain MRI at the time. She intially wanted to refer me straight in to the MS specialist, but she spoke to the consultant and he came and spoke to me. He recommended VEP test and MRI with contrast this time, and a follow up with them. The consultants exact words were “just because this isn’t barn door MS” - I had never heard that expression before, so I am not 100% sure what it means, but I took it to mean that it is not 100% definite, even though they think it is probable/likely. I have had my evoked potentials but could not get the lady to tell me anything (and I tried, believe me!). Still waiting for the MRI - the neuro sec said it probably will be middle of May. So I guess I just need to wait and hope I stay well (I feel pretty good at the moment aside from some weird cold icy trickles on my skin - which I can cope with). I did speak to her at the end and ask her whether she had found evidence of the symptoms that convinced her that this was not functional and she said yes, and we will find the root cause. She said that she would be surprised if they didn’t find what they were looking for on MRI. So hope I have got a good one here (and hope I keep her too!). Leah :slight_smile:

Ps she didn’t check my babinski, mostly she checked my weakness and sensation. She did read and take notes from the Physio letter.