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Forum Name: Neurology Topics

Question: Loss of balance, tingling fingers/toes, throat spasms=MS?!


 So_Danca - Tue Feb 28, 2006 12:13 pm

I am a 32 year old woman, who was otherwise in good health until recently. In the past 3 months I have seen more doctors than I had in my whole life previously, trying to get to the bottom of some mysterious and frightening symptoms.

- About 3 months ago, after getting over a particularly bad cold, I began to experience a lump-in-the throat feeling. I felt like my throat was spasming, and like I could not swallow. I am actually able to swallow food and drink just fine...it just feels as if I have a balloon in my throat, or there is someone squeezing there. My ENT initially said it could probably be an allergy, and put me on a heavy dosage of Prednisone, which did not help. A second ENT said that it could be GERD (acid reflux), and put me on Nexium/Aciphex, which did not help either. Throat symptoms come and go now.

- About 6 weeks after the throat symptoms started, I began to experience feelings of loss of balance, dizziness, and disorientation. The room doesn't spin; rather, I feel as though I can't quite orient my self in space, or as if my head is moving although it is completely still. My head also feels heavy (especially my forehead above my eyes), so much so that I often feel like I am going to tip forward. I also have extreme "brain fog," i.e., difficulty concentrating, loss of memory, "reaching" for words and names when I speak, etc. I feel drugged all the time, although I am not taking any medication, and I don't drink alcohol. These symtoms improve when I am driving or am in the front seat of a car, and when I am wearing my contact lenses (but not my glasses). These symptoms also vary in intensity from day to day, and tend to be better in the morning, and get worse as the day progresses to evening. Brain MRI (with and without contrast) came back absolutely clear/normal; I have not had an MRI of the spine. EEG, and trans-cranial doplar (with carotid artery exam) normal as well.

- About 2 weeks after the loss-of-balance and disorientation began, I also started to experience tingling/pins-and-needles in my left ring and pinkie fingers. This went away after a few days, only to return, this time, in both my left fingers and toes. Sometimes the tingling extends up the front of my left shin and under the foot. Pins-and-needles are very mild, much less severe than when my hand is "asleep" after I've slept on it. So far, no numbness or weakness anywhere. I've had nerve conduction tests (left forearm only), which were all normal.

- For a few days, I experienced mild altered vision in the left eye. The vision was not blurred, just a bit dull (like the difference between regular and high-definition telelvision). This would improve significantly when I put on my glasses or contact lenses. Went away after a few days, and has not returned. Examined by optometrist and neuro-ophthalmologist, and vision found to be normal. No nastygmus (sp?) either.

- I don't know whether I'm just really overly-sensitized to my body now, but I have recently been experiencing strange sensations in my back, near my spinal cord. Sensations are very brief, and very slightly painful. At first, I thought that it might be an old condition acting up. (About 8 months ago, I began to experience throbbing pain and spasms near my tailbone when I would get up, or make movements that stretched my lower spine. GP said it was probably a strained ligament, since I had just started exercising again, and referred me to an orthopedist. I have not seen the orthopedist yet). Now, I don't know if this could be linked to what is going on.

-- The series of doctors I have seen cannot figure out what's causing my symptoms. Now they think it may be a vestibular or inner ear problem. About 10 days before the loss-of-balance/dizziness started, I had gone on a 6-day cruise vacation, during which (ironically) I was not seasick and my throat symptoms disappeared. Not sure if the cruise travel may have triggered a balance problem. But, in any event, a vestibular problem would not account for the pins-and-needles or the throat spasms. From doing my own research and speaking to physician friends (who have not examined me), it seems as though the only thing that could be causing all of these symtoms simultaneously is MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS. It seems like too much of a coincedence that all of these symptoms could have different causes, but are happening at the same time. Some of my doctors have started to suggest stress or anxiety as the cause of my symptoms, but I can say with certainty that this is not the case with me. (Stress seems to be a bit of a "cop out" when doctors cannot find a medical explanation for what's wrong). I was not stressed at all before all of this started. In fact, in recent months, my stress level actually decreased, because I started a new job that I absolutely love, and was getting more exercise and sleep. What is stressing me out is not being able to figure out what's wrong with me! I am not afraid of this being MS...I know that this disease can be treated successfully. In fact, if it is MS, I would liek to find out sooner rather than later, so I could start treatment ASAP. However, everyone around me seems determined to minimize what's happening to me, and it's very frustrating.

*Am I completely off base on the MS thing?
* I have heard that people with negative brain MRIs will sometimes have lesions on their spine, indicating MS. Is this something I should explore? My neurologist and neuro-otologist insist that I don't have MS, based solely on the negative brain MRI. Should I insist on an MRI of my spine as well?

I apologize for the long post, but the past 3 months have been terrifying and harrowing...and it feels like none of my doctors really "gets" what's happening to me. Any advice would be much appreciated.
 jodster - Fri Mar 10, 2006 7:08 pm

In reading your post, I realoze that our situations are very similar. I am a 33 year old woman who has been going thru exactly/give or take a few symptoms for about 3 years off and on now. Same boat with teh negative MRI's and no follow ups, although symptoms contiue..... Anyhow, I don;t want to post too much in to your thread but if you'd ever like to chat my email is jodsterbaker@hotmail.com Good luck.........

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