Functional symptoms

Dear Forum Users,

I’ve been reading this forum for some time and found some very useful posts. I’ve just been to see a neurologist for the first time today (after having my symptoms for a year and a half, and getting worse). It would be very useful for me to know what others think about how it went because I’m puzzled.

The neurologist asked me about my symptoms but didn’t let me finish and didn’t give me the opporunity to explain more. She immediately went on to talking about emotions, mental state, etc. She checked my reflexes and looked into the back of my eye, but it seemed that she only did it because I mentioned I was worried about MS and Lyme disead. She concluded that my symptoms are functional and told me to go for counseling and ‘work out what makes me unhappy and change it’ (literally).

So the symptoms I currently experience on a daily basis are:

  • tightness and pouding in my chest (I’ve been looked at by a cardiologist and my heart is healthy)

  • burning sensation in my chest when I breath in and out (not always)

  • a feeling that I can’t fill my lungs with air and that there is never enough air in my lungs

  • stabbing pains all over upper back but particularly behind the left shoulder blade (but more increasingly under the right one too) and moving towards the shoulder, sometimes radiating up the left side of my neck. It comes and goes but I have these pains every day. This often goes together with the burning sensation when breathing and shortness of breath.

  • weakness and pain in my left arm and increasingly in my right arm too - I can’t tie my hair in one go because of the aching so I have to take breaks; it’s there when I type, when I wash dishes, when I carry a mug with coffee - basically whenever there is any physical exertion.

  • weakness and pain in my legs upon any exertion like walking up a hill, kneeling, squating, bending forward, etc

  • my limbs, but legs in particular, just keep twitching.

  • I think this is one of the most frustrating ones: fatigue. I am tired ALL the time, I wake up in the morning feeling like I’m hangover (and I hardly drink, I might have a pint twice a month), sometimes I am so tired that it makes me cry. I can’t remember the last time I felt rested.

  • dizziness and vertigo - I can’t look at things that move quickly, I can’t move my head too quickly, I can’t look into the distance; all this makes me dizzy and I feel that everything around me is shaky; sometimes it feels that the ground underneath me is shaking

  • blurred vision: at first it was occasional and I went to see an optician last November but they said I had 20/20 vision. Now it’s like this all the time and everything that’s further than 2 meters away from me is blurred and it hurts my eyes to look into the distance or at bright lights. Sometimes my eyes do this strange movement when I want to quickly look up from my keyboard onto the screen - it feels like my eyes don’t catch up and they sort of twitch? I’m not sure how to describe it. Also, my left eyelid droops.

  • concentration and memory: my attention span is very bad, it makes me very tired to focus on new things and reading about new things, I’ve never been this forgetful and this unfocused. I do silly things - I once looked for my hair comb for a week and then found it with my kitchen utensils (I’m the only one using it at home). I struggle when driving for longer periods of time because I feel like I’m unable to focus for more than 30 minutes at a time when behind the wheel and at times I feel like it’s not safe for me. I’ve actually limited my driving to just going to the shop and my husband drives when we have to travel for longer. I have these moments when it feels that I’m not ‘there’ for a split second and when I’m ‘back’ I’m very confused and sometimes I don’t know what’s happening.

I told the neurologist I’m worried about MS and Lyme disease - she completely ignored the Lyme disease, and in terms of MS, she said that if it was MS, she would be able to see someting in the back of my eye and that my reflexes wouldn’t be as they are. She also said that my memory and concentration problems are related to my age (I’m 28) and I can’t expect to have the same attention span and memory as I had when I was at university (4 years ago).

It feels to me that as soon as the doctors find out I was once diagnosed wth depression, they immediately assume that all my problems are related to my mental state. Perhaps they are, but don’t I deserve to have tests to exclude any physical disorders?

I’d love to read what everyone thinks and whether I should just go with it and go for counseling as suggested, or whether I should insist on having scans dones, etc. I mean, I don’t mind and I’m willing to give counseling a go, but the problems and stress in my life at the moment are limited to being stuck in traffic, not being able to find a parking space or my boiler not working. I believe that my previous therapy has helped me in dealing with my issues and I now have good coping strategies in place to deal with any anxiety and low mood. I don’t feel that any other therapy at the moment can benefit me in any way.

Thanks and all the best to everyone!


Hi Nina, sorry you had such a bad consultation. I know how frustrating it is when a neuro just bangs on about stress/depression and doesn’t listen,

Have you looked into Fibromyalgia? I think many of your symptoms sound not so much MS but very much like FM. Especially the chest and neck/shoulder pains. I am absolutely no expert and like you i’m in limbo and don’t have a dx yet.

You are always entitled to a 2nd opinion, and i think in your shoes i would seek one. i f you think you may benefit from counselling then its a worth ago, it doesn’t mean your physical symptoms are any less real, but it may give you the strength to manage them and therefore be able to identify if there are any emotional triggers to some of your symptoms.

Also, depression/stress is a symptom of neurological illnesses, and if someone is going through as much pain and discomfort as you then of course there will be an element of stress there, doesn’t mean that a health professional should rule out a physical condition though.

Grrrrr, these “depression bandwagon” neuros make me furious!!

Really hope you find some answers xxx

def. get a second opinion. you are allowed to push for testing which I would think docs would agree with since you are also willing to go back to counselling, it does show you are willing to except it might be mental health related. but you are really still enititled for a 2nd opion and with the symptoms you listed I would be very vocal about getting help.

How frustrating I have been there after I had a clear mri, a different neurologist to the 1 that ordered it, discharged me without a blink of any eye. He wouldn’t like you listen to the symptoms that I had never had the chance to say at the original appointment. He just got annoyed and said that he had other patients to see and would be here at 9:00 o’clock this rate. Fibroymyalgia is a possibility as I have been doagnosed with it and it is very disabilitating at times. The Fibromyalgia UK website is worth a look at. I do agree if you are not happy get a second opinion, we are stuck in these bodies for too long without having satisfactory answers. Lou x

Thank you guys for letting me know what you think. I’ll go to see my gp again, I’ll go for the counselling but I will also ask for a second opinion…

I did look into fibromyalgia and I expected this to be sugessted during my neuro appointment but she didn’t.

Thanks again, I really appreciate your help!

Thank you guys for letting me know what you think. I’ll go to see my gp again, I’ll go for the counselling but I will also ask for a second opinion…

I did look into fibromyalgia and I expected this to be sugessted during my neuro appointment but she didn’t.

Thanks again, I really appreciate your help!