for many years now i have had chronic pain, numbness in my left toes ( on and off), short term memory loss (ex: just yesterday i worked a morning shift and by the time night time came i had to ask my mom if i worked) blurred vision, anything 5 pounds or more feels very heavy, i am tired all the time, i feel weak, and once in a while i loose my balance. I had an MRI and an MRA done not because of my SX but because my father had an anyurisum and his neurologist said it would be smart to check out my brain and make sure i do not have one..... anyway they found multiple areas of white matter inflammation i have an apt with a neurologist in a couple of days and i am worried that MS might be in my future. With the SX i have put down what do u think is the likelihood of this DX? thank you for ur time
Thanks for using the forum. I am happy to address your questions, and my answer will be based on the information you provided here. Please make sure you recognize that this forum is for educational purposes only, and it does not substitute for a formal office visit with a doctor.
Without the ability to examine and obtain a history, I can not tell you what the exact cause of the symptoms is. However I will try to provide you with some useful information.
There are multiple causes for so called white matter changes (or plaques) in the brain. Most often, these are due to what is called "chronic small vessel disease", literally meaning diseased small vessels that supply blood flow to the brain. This is not an uncommon process in the brain and increases with age. This is not a disease in and of itself but rather is a reflection of unhealthy blood vessels, damaged by years of plaque build-up. This is most often due to a combination of several factors including the following: high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, and high cholesterol. If these factors are well controlled, the damage to the brain can be stabilized and further damage prevented.
Other causes of plaques in the brain can be migraine. People with migraine often have plaques on their MRI that are of unclear cause or significance.
Other causes of plaques on MRI can usually be distinguished based on history and symptoms, such as symptoms of neurologic deficit (for example arm weakness or difficulty walking etc). These can also be distinguished based on the MRI appearance. These include, but are not limited to, multiple sclerosis, other demyelinating disease, and inflammatory processes such as vasculitis.
Regarding multiple sclerosis, it is a disease that primarily affects the central nervous system (brain, spinal cord, nerves from the eye, the optic nerves). Symptoms may be mild to severe, ranging from tingling and numbness to paralysis. There is not one test alone or one symptom that can diagnose MS, but there are well-established criteria that help neurologists make the diagnosis. These include taking a thorough history, doing a thorough physical exam, conducting an MRI of the brain with gadolinium (contrast, similar to dye) and sometimes MRI of the spine, and sometimes ancillary testing such as lumbar puncture and evoked potentials. If an MRI of the brain and spine is normal, the diagnosis of MS becomes highly unlikely. If there are changes on the MRI (such as what you are describing), they will need to be evaluated in the context of your history/examination and also on the appearance and location of these MRI findings.
The symptoms you report may or may not be related to MS, as sensory symptoms can happen for many other reasons.
I agree that seeing a neurologist is a good idea. Also, have you had basic blood work including CBC, CMP, TSH, and B12 checked for other causes of your symptoms?
Thank you for this opportunity to answer your questions, I hope you find the information I have provided useful, good luck.
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