It’s Always Something
Last updated: January 2023
We all have heard the phrase, whether we learned it from Saturday Night Live’s Roseann Rosannadanna (aka Gilda Radner) or have seen it displayed on a meme somewhere. In our case in the world of multiple sclerosis, we also use it a lot, and not in such a good way. Yes, it is true...It’s always something!
Unusual symptoms are no strangers
It seems we have symptoms come and go and it is always something that we think may be related to our MS. Distinguishing that ‘something’ can be complex and difficult, even for those of us who have lived with our MS for a while.
That tightness in my left adductor muscle, is it MS? Maybe, maybe not. The stabbing pain in my ears, is it MS? Maybe, maybe not. Certainly, that irritating twitch in my left eye is MS. Maybe, maybe not. “Well, it just goes to show you, it’s always something - if it ain’t one thing, it’s another.” - Roseanne Roseannadanna
Is my symptom MS-related?
In my own course with MS, I have encountered these passing symptoms and more. It almost always occurs to me that it could be my MS tossing a fit, but more times than not when I stop and evaluate the symptom, I can find other explanations. Remember, it’s always something!
The twitching in my eye was non-stop for about two weeks. It was so irritating but not painful and I asked my primary care physician (PCP) about it. The doctor was sympathetic to my complaint and advised me in time it would go away. I spend a lot of time on my computer and hand-held devices and eye strain and dry eye would not be a surprise, both of which are known to cause twitching. Over the weekend my right eye started its own small twitch, confirming to me that it isn’t my MS or related to optic neuritis.
When the excruciating pain starts up in my ear or my temples, my thoughts immediately jump to trigeminal neuralgia. Often it takes me a while to remember I also have dental issues and it doesn’t take much to set off this pain. A poppy seed stuck between my teeth is enough at times to create the same symptoms as trigeminal neuralgia. Any object in the wrong place against a nerve might set off extreme pain. Using some dental floss usually stops the pain in its tracks. It has taken me time to learn the lesson, but my problem isn’t always MS-related, but it is always something.
For over four years I have been plagued with tightness and pain in my left adductor muscle. This is the big muscle on the inside of your thigh that runs from the hip to just above the knee. Of course, it had to be my MS because everyone knows people with MS have trouble with their hips. It could be because of spasticity or because I walk with a lopsided gait, but MS is a known cause of hip pain.
Searching for answers
I went to neurorehabilitation for several months two different times but got little to no relief. Then I started seeing a wonderful chiropractor, he helped my back but the hip got minimal relief. My neurologist suggested the pain might be nerve-related and prescribed gabapentin, but that only made me more tired. My PCP ordered x-rays and offered to send me to a pain management doctor to get relief. I wasn’t looking for pills but wanted to know the cause of my pain, and I asked for an orthopedic referral, instead.
The ortho doc was great but delivered the bad news that my hip joint is bone on bone, and I need hip replacement surgery. So now I have my answer. For four years I have chased something to help with the hip pain, but always down the wrong path thinking it was MS connected. As Roseanne Rosannadanna would say, 'it’s always something', and this time it’s the effect of age and osteoarthritis and not at all related to my MS.
Consider other causes
I share all this because multiple sclerosis is a complex disease and can cause a wide variety of symptoms. It is easy to treat our symptoms as a by-product of our MS and go down that path, ignoring other possible causes. We have to keep in mind there’s the possibility that it can be something else because it’s always something.
Wishing you well,
What does advocacy mean to you as someone living with multiple sclerosis? Please select all that apply: