MS Society UK | Forum

Other explanations for MS like symptoms? (i.e., similar illnesses)

Hey :slight_smile:

Firstly just to say this whole thing is terrifying and reading all your posts is really informative and comforting so thanks :slight_smile:

I am 26 and potentially may be in my first MS relapse. I am fairly sure that my symptoms fit MS as I went through my mothers diagnosis with her. Im curious what other illnesses you guys or your doctors looked into before diagnosing MS? My symptoms may be something else but I really don’t know where to start with what else it could be.

A brief explanation of what’s been happening:

It started with foot drop in my right leg and within a couple of days i had lost the use of it, couldn’t raise it off the floor etc, ended up dragging it around for a couple of weeks. A few days ago movement came back but i have constant numbness and weird feelings in it, like cold/burning etc. Walking any distance makes it give up again and stop being able to move it very well. Generally feel weak and tired.

Were there any other illnesses your doctor considered? Or you found online that may have fit?

Any advice on this is really appreciated!



hi rosie

i’m very sorry that you are going through this at such a young age.

everybody with ms has a different experience so bear that in mind when reading the posts on here.

yeah we are unique!

you describe the sensations in your leg well and it sounds like me and my legs.

i don’t know if you have been diagnosed or seen by a neuro.

if not, you should ask your GP to refer you.

in my experience stress is the thing to avoid, it makes all symptoms worse.

easier said than done, but i found mindfulness helps.

distraction techniques such as listening to music, watching a film or reading takes the focus of the symptoms.

please make an appointment to see you gp.

carole x

Hey Carole,

Thanks for the reply. I have seen my GP who wanted to admit me into hospital for tests and see neurologist but i didn’t want to miss any work so i decided to use my health insurance and go private. I have the neurologist on wednesday the 28th. Though yesterday the symptoms got so much worse i ended up coming home from work and today back to the GP to be signed off work until this passes/got to the bottom of. So that plan didn’t really work out all that well!

Woke up this morning to a horrible pain in my left eye and feel so weak and ill there’s no way I could be at work. Is it common to need time off work through a relapse? (if that is what this is)

Thanks for the distraction advice. Got next to no sleep because of the weird feelings in my leg and that’s not helping everything else.


Hi Rosie Yes, some people are convinced they have MS but end up having low levels of Vitamin D or B12, or having a different diagnosis (like CFS or Fibromyalgia, or FND - Functional Neurological Disorder). But of course you are doing the right thing by seeing a neurologist in just a week. So s/he will be able to do a neurological exam and then refer you for more tests if they are needed. MS is obviously your first fear because of going through your mothers diagnosis. And you could quite easily slide your symptoms into a diagnosis of MS. But the big issue with MS is that it does share a whole load of symptoms with other disorders. So it could be something else. I hope all goes well with you at the neurologists. Let us know what happens. Sue

Hi Sue,

Thanks for the reply. My bloods have all come back fine for vitamin levels.

I’ve been signed off work for 2 weeks as I just feel insanely weak and ill. I’m out of bed for a bit and then back to lying down as I’m exhausted. Just a waiting game now until the neurologist :frowning:

The frustration at so quickly going from working out everyday to struggling to be out of bed is definitely starting to get to me and just want answers. Though I realise MS or things down that line can take an infuriating long time to get answers for!


There can be so many conditions that produce neurological symptoms similar to MS and can include, but not limited to:

CFS/ME, Fibromyalgia, Anxiety (GAD), PTSD, Depression, Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT), Neurofibromatosis, Neurosarcoidosis etc. Or even an atypical presentation of another condition. It really is hard to pinpoint neurological causes and is why we need trained consultants to look into subtle differences in disease presentation.

Good luck with your appointment next week!

Hi Rosie,

Responding to you because I also suffered a foot drop last year and ‘suddenly’ had an onset of other ‘MS-like’ symptoms. Turns out it was neither MS or 1 of the other degenerative neurological conditions that I was extremely worried about. In actual fact, it was a common peroneal nerve palsy which can be caused by something as simple as sleeping or sitting awkwardly. The most common cause of foot drop is in people who sit with their legs crossed putting pressure on the peroneal nerve which runs down the side of the leg. Eventually it will compress to the point where the brain’s signals do not reach the brain and boom your foot is out of action.

I couldn’t move my foot properly for fully 2 months and had no feeling in at all other than my toes for about 6 of those 8 weeks.

So try not to get too downhearted. At this stage, it’s more likely to be a trapped nerve than MS, particularly if you are showing such speedy signs of recovery. Neil x

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Hi Neil

Well done for helping to dispel some of the anxiety around neurological type issues. I’m glad you’ve sorted out your diagnosis and are getting better.

It’s brilliant that you’re sharing what you went through with others in a similar position.


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Yes, I agree with a trapped nerve, it can be that too!

Good luck at your appointment x

Hi Sue - Yes, when I read this I thought it sounded almost identical to what I suffered, even to the feeling of ‘coldness’. And of course, I was really worried so I’m hoping this will give the OP some hope that it might not be MS.

I hope you, grandma and the rest are all keeping as well as can be. Neil x

Neil, please stay. I second sue’s comments. Hugs

Hey Rosie How did you get on at your appointment? Xx

Hey everyone, thanks for all your advice/comments. Saw the neurologist and he has asked for MRI’s and nerve tests. I asked what he was looking for and he said MS is the leading option but that some of the examination pointed away from MS. I have MRI today of head and full spine, 90 minutes! Terrified. Woke up this morning to feeling like someone has repeatedly kicked me in the ribs. Nothing to see there but feels like it should be insanely bruised, it’s painful to the touch. Had a similar thing the other night waking up with intense pain below left hip. Both hurt to move and to touch. No clue if this could be an MS thing or a sign of something else? Feel like i’m going insane with all these weird symptoms and stopped talking to friends and family about any of it as I just sound crazy. Rosie

Hello Rosie

I’m sure it’s too late to say this now, but good luck with the MRI. And assuming it’s over, I hope it went OK and you felt all right in the scanner.

MRIs are odd, the time seems to stretch and contract weirdly. I never know how long I’ve been in the machine. I just find it oddly hypnotic and have often fallen asleep. (I’ve had quite a lot over the years!)

Hopefully you won’t have too long to wait for the results of the scan.

Meanwhile, I’m sure you don’t sound crazy. So do talk to the people around who care about you. And if you can’t, just keep talking to us.


Thanks :slight_smile: Hated it. Didn’t think I was going to be able to do it. I’m autistic and being in clothes I’m not use to, in a small space with loud noises was like a literal hell. But I made it! All done and results tomorrow evening. Not sure if I want them to find anything or not.


Hi Rosie

I totally understand your worry about what if they do, what if they don’t, find anything. In some respects it would be a relief to get an MS diagnosis - until the truth of the bugger sinks in!

Well done for suffering the agonies of the scanner. At least you’ve only got till tomorrow for the results. Let us know.


Just had a nerve conduction study and it found a trapped nerve with possible damage in my knee; the peroneal nerve. I am insanely relieved that it has been found to be something like this. I have shared this with friends and family and celebrated this as being incredible that it’s a one off thing.

I am relieved. But there is a part of me that feels it doesn’t explain the pains elsewhere and general weakness and tiredness. Can my right leg going have triggered the rest? It certainly makes sense the left leg and back pain came from a shift in how i bear my weight. The tiredness and weakness from a body coping with insane pain in the leg?? Why was i waking up feeling like I’d been kicked in the ribs and left hip? Stress? Tiredness again? Desperately trying to find a logical explanation that makes this just nerve damage, even if the damage is permanent.

I guess for now celebrate this finding, help my leg recover and pray nothing like this happens again?

I haven’t heard from the neurologist so assume MRI’s were all clear. I see him next week. I am concerned he will not be happy to say it is simply this nerve as he expressed concerns previously it could not just be explained by that.

Anyway that’s a lot of information! I don’t want to share any of this with friends/family so thanks for any advice/support in replies :slight_smile:

Hello Rosie

It does sound like it’s good news. And re-reading your first post on this thread, it was all about your right leg.

So, is it possible that you’ve had a very real problem with the peroneal nerve in your leg and added that you having watched your mother with MS to end up with convincing yourself it’s MS?

Dragging your leg around is no small thing. And it is very typical of MS. But if the neurologist thought some of your examination pointed away from MS as well, then it’s entirely possible that you have an answer that’s resolveable.

I really do hope so. And I hope that your appointment next week confirms this.

Come back and let us know.


Hi Sue,

I never mentioned MS to any doctors, the GP and Neuro said to me that’s what it looked like. Having said that I think if I didn’t have neurological family history they may have been less likely to investigate that area.

I agree that losing my leg was horrible and I’m hoping the stress of this psychologically and physically is what adversely effected the rest of my body. I literally lost the leg and had insane amounts of pain, a couple hours sleep a night etc etc. It makes sense this would have other effects on my body?

Thanks for your advice. Guess it’s wait and see what the neuro says. Google is not helping me telling me 1 in 4 people with MS get misdiagnosed with a trapped nerve first!? I’m awful at explaining things but I know there are symptoms i’ve had this past month that cannot be explained by a trapped nerve in my knee, but I guess I have to now believe that was stress and wait for the neuro to confirm this.



My neurologist said something like 25% of people with neurological symptoms find no definitive reason, so at least the trapped nerve explains some of it - to an extent. So you can feel, at least, you are not imagining it!

He also said that when there is a neurological problem in one area of the body is can make the brain misinterpret signals from lost of areas. The brain get’s ‘confused’ by the wrongly transmitting signals, i.e in your case, the trapped nerve in your leg could be confusing your nervous system and the brains interpretation of it. (hope that makes sense, I haven’t explained it as well as him). Or, a neurological issue in one area can cause us to become ‘hypervigilant’ and begin to focus very hard on other areas, and be overly ‘aware’ of benign sensations in the body. Either way, the brain gets confused.

So I guess it could all be related? Or you could have something else going on aswell?

And luckily you had an MRI so quick, compared to others, so you shouldn’t be misdiagnosed as an MRI will pick up MS lesions.

I am waiting for my MRI results so I know exactly how you feel BTW x