MS or Chronic Fatigue?

by Mel
(Tasmania)

I have been "diagnosed" with Chronic Fatigue - because all tests come back "normal". Recently, a 16 year old friend was diagnosed with MS, and as the only person she knows with medical knowledge, she came to me for help and information.


I didn't know much about MS so started researching it. I found a list of signs and symptoms and was horrified to realise it perfectly describes me!

I then found this site, with all the "You know you have MS when..." jokes and groaned - they all describe me too!

How do I go about seeking a diagnosis? I am on a waiting list to see a Neurologist - but that will take about 18 months. Is there a quicker way?

I had an MRI of the brain a couple of years ago and it was normal. I had a spinal X-Ray in 2005 which showed marked scoliosis - but no mention of lesions (though X-ray would not show this).

If all tests keep coming back normal, what is there to confirm the diagnosis of MS?

Many Thanks,
Mel



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Jul 28, 2011
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Faster MS Diagnosis
by: Akrista

Unfortunately, Mel, the only way that I know of getting a definite diagnosis of MS is to be seen by a neurologist. If your original MRI's were not evaluated by a neurologist who specializes in MS, your doctor could have missed the "spots" that indicate multiple sclerosis. I've looked at my husbands MRI's before and wondered what he was actually "seeing" that I wasn't.

Another possibility for you could be that you have a mild type of MS. Or you could have been at an early stage of MS where the lesions are very small and hard to see or there just aren't that many when the tests were first done. If you didn't have a spinal MRI, the X-ray, like you said, wouldn't have been strong enough to show lesions there.

One test my husband's doctor does is to run a sharp instrument - the thing they use to tap your knee (for reflexes) - using the other end, along the bottom of his foot. The normal response is for your toes to go up. In people with MS, the toes curl under instead of up.

Another test neurologists do is to have you follow their finger with your eyes while keeping your head still. If your eyes shift back and forth (nystagmus) as they are following the finger, this is another indication of possible MS. There are several other tests a neurologist will do in the office that point to multiple sclerosis.

Some of the symptoms of chronic fatigue and multiple sclerosis do overlap. These are mostly the symptoms like debilitating fatigue, muscle weakness, headaches, depression, and worsening symptoms when dealing with stress. Other symptoms may also be present.

I wish I could say there was a quicker way to a diagnosis of MS other than having a full blown exacerbation that lands you in the hospital. This, obviously, would be no fun. If you can find a neurologist who will see you earlier - possibly take you in the place of someone who cancels, maybe??

If you develop any other symptoms like optic neuritis or vision problems where you can't see, severe headaches, numbness and tingling in your feet which causes you to fall - these may get you into a doctor sooner.

One thing you can do is to keep a detailed journal of your symptoms from now until you see the neurologist. I'm sure this can only help when it comes to explaining what you have been going through. This is especially helpful if you have cognitive issues. If you write everything down you won't forget when you see the doctor. Hopefully you will get your answer sooner rather than later.

Take care and so glad you found our site,
Akrista

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