Family Connection?

Hi everyone,

My mum has recently been diagnosed with MS - and it looks as though she’s probably had it MUCH longer than thought, as many previous misdiagnosed illnesses/strokes seem now to have been caused by MS attacks. We’re just learning about how this will affect her. The reason for my post at the moment, is that my mum seems to be particularly keen for me to get tested for MS. A few niggling issues I’ve had have made her concerned that they tally with what she recognises as MS symptoms. I’m just unsure as to whether they’re actual symptoms, or whether she’s maybe concerned due to her recent diagnosis.

The other week I woke up in the middle of the night with a crushing pain in my chest…my mum likened this to the “MS hugs” she has…and I often wake with aches in my hips when I’m sleeping. I was just wondering whether there is a family connection with MS? I’ve done a bit of research online, and I know studies are inconclusive…but just wondered if there were any actual real life examples where there were or anything.

Thanks in advance for any advice/help.

Hi Jinkies, MS provably has a strong genetic component, yet is not hereditary, if that makes sense? It cannot be passed on in the same way hereditary diseases can, yet certain genes, or combinations of genes, are known to be associated with higher risk. Because blood relatives share more genetic material than random strangers do, it is likely that blood relatives of people with MS share more of the “risky” genes. But risky genes by themselves do not cause MS. There has to be some additional trigger, or triggers, that have yet to be identified. Even among identical twins, the risk of the other having it, if one does, is only about 1 in 3, I believe. If it were purely genetic, you’d expect always either both to have it, or neither, because they share the same genes. Yes, it does tend to cluster in families. There’s nothing inconclusive about that. About 1 in 5 people with MS has a blood relative who is also affected. This is much higher than chance alone would dictate. But of course, it also means four in five don’t have any other known cases in the family! A close relative with MS does mean you run a higher lifetime risk than “Joe Average”. But the risk is still not high. Tina

Hello and welcome :slight_smile:

Just to add to Tina’s reply, if you are having symptoms, then you need to have them investigated. MS symptoms are so varied and numerous that I would happily bet that almost all medical conditions share at least one similar symptom to MS so, even if some of your symptoms are familiar to your mum, chances are that you have a vitamin deficiency or something completely unrelated to MS.

The best thing to do is to see your GP and take it from there. A load of blood tests is usually the sensible place to start and, with any luck, may reveal what’s going on without any need to go down the neurology route.

A real example: My daughter developed neurological symptoms a few years ago. She didn’t tell me for six months, knowing that I would make her see someone. Naturally, we were both terrified it was MS, but she refused to see anyone about it for another six months. When I finally convinced her to see her GP, it turned out she was vitamin B12 deficient! (Not that that’s nothing: B12 deficiency can cause serious disability if left unchecked. And we’d done nothing for a year! Doh!)

I hope it all works out well.

Karen x

Thank you to both of you for your replies (and the late response) - I guess I’ve just been a bit worried about what the Dr would say. Not sure I could continue to support my mum the way she needs if it turned out I had it too but you’re right…the only way to be sure it to get seen by a Dr.

I’ll make time this week to go and start getting these niggling things checked (I had the chest pain again last week) so either way, I need to get that seen to.

Thanks for the advice x

Just one thought to add, and it is about people newly dx with ms. When a person who has been trogging along, unsuspecting, for years suddenly finds out that she has had a chronic progressive neurological disorder all the time and did not even know, it can do strange things to her view of the world for a bit. One of the things it can do is to put all her alert systems on hyper-vigilant, so she sees sinister shadows in every corner - it is as if her mind, having been caught napping, is determined not to get caught out again. (Many of us have been there - me included.) Just maybe, you are seeing a little of that, as your mother’s hyper-vigilance transfers, very naturally, to her dear child, whom she would do anything to protect from harm. As others have said, get anything you are worried about checked out, but try not to worry too much - common and trivial things are very much more common than are serious ones like MS.


Thanks for that reply Alison - to be honest, that’s kind of what I think has been going on. She’s concerned that a lot of things she has wrong with her are now linked to MS - against what even her MS nurse is telling her. But I understand how she must feel concerned about every little element of this since it’s been such a recent diagnosis. I’ll still get checked out, but you’re probably right in that I shouldn’t worry so much.

The advice on here is great - I’m going to try to send my mum in this direction because I’m sure she’d benefit from being here too.