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Symptoms but no follow up

Hi. First of all, I have to be honest and say I have been previously diagnosed with health anxiety. My previous worries were cancer and HIV, although recently I have became very worried about MS. I have had a number of symptoms over the last year. 1. A recurring cold patch on my hand 2. Pain above my eye for a few months but no vision loss. 3. Widespread twitching all over body. This occurs everywhere, and has done so for about a year. 4. Bladder retention problems, although I have been told i have a tight bladder muscle and a slight stricture. My recent episode did not show that the stricture had reoccurred, but I still had urinary retention although this followed a dose of Imodium. 5. Very occasionally I feel a lump in my throat when swallowing. This has been the case for about 6 years. 6. Strange cold sensations in shins 7. A weak feeling in left leg but no clinical weakness 8. A numb feeling with shivers over the left of my face that started four days ago and has not left me, 9. A tremor when I half smile, which goes back about five years as I recall. Two of my GPs have carried out manual neurological exams and didn’t find anything of concern. They didn’t even suggest sending me to a neurologist and they think it is anxiety related. I also have had blood tests that came back okay. Things improved for a few months but now the tingling in my face and back of head have returned. They get worse when I exercise. I also have the cold patch on my thumb reoccurring. I also have a hoarse voice. Given this history and the recurring symptoms, should I push for MS tests? I feel there must be more to my issues than just simple stress. Advice badly needed. Thanks

Hi,

You have been honest about your past history with health anxiety, so I will be too, This doesn’t sound like MS to me. Several things don’t fit. MS symptoms are very rarely “all over the body” (the twitchng), or move around all over the body. Yes, they can be in more than one place, but not everwhere. This is because MS consists of lesions - or areas of damage - in the central nervous system. You can have multiple lesions - indeed, everyone with a confirmed diagnosis does, because that’s what MS means. But you cannot have lesions literally “everywhere”, with no place untouched. Symptoms correspond very specifically to the areas of nervous system damage, so if the damage can’t be everywhere, neither can the symptoms be.

A lump in the throat sensation is very commonly associated with anxiety - it’s not a classic MS symptom.

People with MS have REAL weakness, not just a feeling of weakness, that is clinically undetectable. If your strength was compromised by MS, it’s highly likely this would be detectable on examination.

I do fully appreciate that your past history of health anxiety doesn’t mean you could never, ever be ill with anything more physical. But given that past history, which includes worries about two other serious illnesses you didn’t have, AND the fact your symptoms aren’t really a classic fit with MS (but quite a good fit with anxiety), I’m inclined to go with your GP, for the moment. What help (if any) are you being offered for the anxiety? It would certainly be interesting to see if symptoms eased if you were being treated for that.

You also have to think about the effect on yourself of pushing for more tests. Would this offer you peace of mind, or would your GP agreeing to it just confirm in your own mind that there really is something to worry about, and they secretly think so too? I personally found the investigations very stressful (and I did have MS!) I’m not sure it’s something I would voluntarily put myself through, if my GP had found no cause for concern.

What would happen if the neuro found nothing wrong either? Would you accept that finding, or would you think they must have missed something, and start pushing for a second opinion? All things to weigh up…

I really do think anxiety is the first angle to tackle. If you’ve not been offered any help with that, you should have been, as it IS a real illness, and can be just as debilitating as a physical one. I know - I’ve had severe anxiety in the past, and at times have been physically sick with it, and on the loo so much I started bleeding. So I know it’s not a trivial thing, and can severely impact quality of life.

Unfortunately, there are no quick fixes for anxiety. It IS treatable, but it’s likely you’d always be a little bit prone to it, even with treatment. However, I’d strongly encourage you to try getting it treated (drugs, therapy or a combination), to see if it makes any difference to your perspective about your health.

Tina

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