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The importance of ruling out multiple sclerosis

I have experienced tingling, burning, weakness, and numbness all over my body. This has been coming on for the past three months. I had been getting painful but not debilitating headaches, daily. I decided to seek medical help when I lost feeling in my feet. I could barely walk. I would drag my feet across the floor. I became extremely tired. My eyes hurt, I lost feeling in my bowel, stomach, and throat.

My family doctor immediately ordered a blood test to check for deficiencies. Being a vegetarian, I thought I was suffering from B12 deficiency, but my levels were within the normal range. My ferritin levels, however, were "5". My family doctor did not seem overly concerned because my red blood cells were all within normal range. He stated that I was not anemic but well on my way to become anemic, so I would need to supplement the iron. Because I have inflammatory bowel disease, I was apprehensive to take iron because I do not tolerate it well. My family doctor said an MRI should be done to rule out MS but also said that the disease is not normally symmetrical. He referred me to an internist.

In the meantime my symptoms slowly improved. After 2 weeks, I decided it was a good idea to integrate iron.

In the third week, I saw the internist. He believes that everything is related to the low levels of ferritin and that if I boost my iron, all symptoms will subside. He thought that it would be unnecessary to see a neurologist or have an MRI to rule out MS.

Since I saw the internist, I have experienced extreme pain all over my face, along with a headache. The pain is debilitating.  I also started vomiting with diarrhea.

I am hopeful that all of this is due to low ferritin, but I am wondering why my family doctor was concerned that it might be much more than that? Can low ferritin really cause all of these symptoms? Would it be a good idea to still have an MRI and meet with a neurologist? or would it be best to wait everything out?

Thank you!
3 Responses
351246 tn?1379682132
MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL
Hi!
I do appreciate your concerns regarding MS. Low ferritin can cause generalized bone pain as the bone marrow tries to compensate. It can cause exhaustion, not feeling fresh, weakness and these types of symptoms. If you have IBS the possibly poor iron absorption is the cause of low ferritin. You must have complete iron panel done with TIBC, iron, ferritin, % saturation etc. Since you have IBS, iron supplementation through injections may help.

A generalized tingling and burning sensation can be due to due to dry skin, hyperthyroid states, liver or gall bladder dysfunction, peripheral neuropathies as in diabetes or decreased sweating as in Sjogren’s syndrome. Fibromyalgia is another possibility. Vit B12 or Vit D deficiency too should be looked into (of these, low vitamin B12 is ruled out). This would need a comprehensive investigation.

Apart from this, yes, MS can begin with numbness, tingling, burning sensation along with muscle weakness etc. Usually, in the beginning, the symptoms come and go with flares in between. There may or may not be accompanying visual symptoms. So, if all the above mentioned conditions are ruled out and there is no improvement with iron therapy, then yes, it is important to rule out MS.

Hope you get well soon! Good Luck and take care!
Avatar universal
Thank you!

So does low ferritin cause neurological symptoms like numbness/loss of sensation?  The internist did mention that iron injections might be necessary.  Are these normally well tolerated?

I believe diabetes and vit D deficiency have been ruled out.  How does one test for Sjorgens syndrome and fibromyalgia?

These feelings and sensations have occurred before on two separate occasions but were much more mild.

Thanks again and I am slowly improving every day!
Avatar universal
A related discussion, Pain in armpit and tingling sensations in one leg was started.

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