I am a 60 year old woman. My doctor does not seem to think I need an MRI for MS. I think I do... 20 years ago had a few bouts of both arms down to my hands going numb. This occured usually during exertion. 5 years ago my legs totally gave out on me. lately... every now and again I "stumble" and sometimes my wrist or arm hurts for days at a time. I am tired a lot of the time... but I do not know if it is just old age, or MS The doctors from years ago ruled out MS because BOTH arms would go numb, not just one. They had no explanation for both going numb. Any comments on this?
In its early stages, MS usually presents on only one side of the body--but that doesn't mean it couldn't cause bilateral numbness in some cases. It all depends on the location and extent of the nerve damage, and this differs from patient to patient.
That said, arm numbness after exertion is a rather general symptom with many possible causes. Have you had your heart checked recently? The cause could be vascular, or neurological, or both, or ? At the very least, an EMG could be done to check for peripheral nerve damage. A neurologist should have done some testing. A spine MRI often reveals degenerative spine disease: herniated discs, arthritis, stenosis, things that press on a nerve and can cause pain, numbness, weakness, bladder trouble, symptoms very similar to MS symptoms.
Arm and wrist pain, stumbling, fatigue, and legs giving out are all MS symptoms--but they are also nonspecific symptoms, meaning that they are not indicative of one particular disease. Your symptoms are not normal, despite your age, and they should be taken seriously by your doctor. Chances are, however, that it is not MS, which is a rare disease compared to other possible causes for your symptoms. Your doctor should be aggressively exploring the possibilities and ruling them out via testing.
You'll have to advocate for yourself and insist on these tests. If your doctor refuses, then seek out a second opinion. Emphasize the extent to which these symptoms are affecting your quality of life. Any medical professional worth his salt will pay attention. Hope this helps.
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