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What’s MiSsing?

I spent the last few months doing a remedial course in physical therapy. My walking had become quite difficult, fortunately not painful, and my gait was unsteady. Walking had become a dreaded chore and I was so dependent on my cane for stability it called for intervention or I would soon be needing a walker. So back to neuro-rehabilitation physical therapy I went. Admittedly, I’m not always true to the homework assignments of what I should do when I’m not working with the therapist, but this time around I have put the extra effort into doing what I can to make an improvement in my walking and not just hoping for progress.

I have also spent that time talking over and over to my therapists about how my walking just felt off and that my left leg obviously must be affected by the multiple sclerosis, and perhaps spasticity was causing more of my problems than originally thought. That leg felt as if it were drawn up and wouldn’t extend properly.We all know about the dreaded hip flexor problem many people with MS experience.

More than once I’ve confessed to my readers that I can be a slow learner –what might be obvious to others can sometimes take a crazy longer time for it to register with me. And that’s what happened AGAIN – it took me months and months to have that mental light bulb lit and the ‘AH HA!’ moment that I was perhaps pursuing the wrong cure for my problem. But I wasn’t alone –my medical team was also not seeing the obvious.

It’s easy to blame MS

You see it is so easy to blame the MS on everything, especially when it comes to the problems of walking, and I had fallen into that trap again. After consulting with several therapists in the groups I go to, it was decided I might benefit from going to a chiropractor to be evaluated. It didn’t take much for the chiropractor to declare – ‘your hips are out of alignment’ and start the process of manipulating me back into the proper position. It turns out my hip was out about 1.5 inches and that was making the difference in my ability to walk. The longer I let the problem go, the worse and more tight all of those muscles became and the shorter my leg would seem to be. My hips were so off balance it felt as if I was walking on the side of the mountain with one leg always longer than the other.

What was the origin on my hip problem? Most likely from all the orthopedic issues on my left foot, and the need to wear those crazy black ortho shoes- it’s impossible to match their sole height with a shoe on the other foot and I always end up walking off kilter.

Ultimately, I share the question – what was MiSsing from my problem? Most probably my MS. All of us were so busy assuming that the MS was causing the bulk of my issues with walking that we stopped looking at other possible sources. It’s a common problem when we have a chronic disease and immediately assume our MS is the source of all of our health issues. While I have spasticity and hip flexor tightness, it has not been enough to cause the problems I have experienced.

Jumping to conclusions

Jumping to the MS conclusion reminds me of a story from a good friend. She awoke one morning, put on her glasses, and was immediately gripped with panic as she realized her vision in one eye was completely blurred, and being a smart person (also a doctor) she was sure it was most likely an attack of optic neuritis. It wasn’t until later when she took off her glasses to clean them that she realized one lens had fallen out. Her experience is the perfect example of how it isn’t always MS, and I can now add my example to the list.

Wishing you well,


This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • nme5x1
    2 years ago

    “We all know about the dreaded hip flexor problem many people with MS experience.” No ‘we’ don’t. Please provide some reference links.

  • DonnaFA moderator
    2 years ago

    Hi nme5x1, there are a few articles on the sire which discuss spasticity and tightness in the hip flexor, which may be helpful until community members chime in. Thanks for being here! – All Best, Donna ( team)

  • tfs
    2 years ago

    You are correct. We assume MS is the only problem in many things: our walking, our foggy thinking, our communication skills, our relationship issues. Of course, it factors in a major way. And we often get new symptoms that further impair our abilities. I am starting to experience new physical symptoms. Mine is a progressive disease. Perhaps enquiring about these with curiousity will help. Keep an Open Mind. A slogan, I know, but true and necessary if we are going to achieve balance (LOL) in our lives.

  • Laura Kolaczkowski author
    2 years ago

    I like the positive approach of open mind and curiousity…. thanks for sharing your ideas. best, Laura

  • Julie
    2 years ago

    I love that I’m not the only one that tends to assume a new problem is MS when really, we should be looking at why it might NOT be MS.

    I have had numbness, tingling and pain in my left leg and foot that I was actually cursing MS for giving me this lot in life. Before MS I had no idea that something could cause pain and be numb at the same time! My neuro upped my pain dosage with little or no results. Then one day I was rubbing my foot when I discovered 3 lumps on the tendon in the arch of my foot.

    I went to my primary care doctor to see what they could be. She said it really wasn’t her specialty so she sent me to a podiatrist. He glanced at my x-ray and said “you have a few plantar fibroma and they really should come off. What’s this?? Something other than MS could be causing the pain?? He assured me that they are very painful.

    So 2 weeks ago I had surgery to have them removed. The incision is still pretty painful but it is my hope that most of the pain will be taken care of. When I told my neuro, he looked skeptical. “Julie, the burning and numbness are most certainly MS”. I KNOW doc but throw me a bone here! If I can get rid of a lot of the pain, I’ll take it!

    Now is the waiting game. Will I be free of some pain? I don’t know yet. I get my stitches out on Friday. As it heals, I am keeping my fingers crossed. My foot doc told me at my last visit that I have 2 on my right foot too. I was hoping that wasn’t the case altho I had been having some new pain.

    No one told me life would be easy.

  • Laura Kolaczkowski author
    2 years ago

    My feet hurt just thinking about your problems and surgery. I hope the end result is your find relief. I know the doctors are often hard to convince it is something outside of their specialty, which is why as the patient we have to be even more open minded about the possibilities. Thanks for sharing and good luck! -Laura

  • KarenMc
    2 years ago

    Hi Lori!
    For about 3 months, I have been frustrated with a constellation of symptoms that have greatly impacted my quality of life. It turns out that I was blaming conditions other than MS for my problems! I have learned to call my neurologist more often 🙂

    Thanks for your story, as I have your same issues in the past. I am a former nurse practitioner and I sometimes think I know what is best (but not always!!)

  • Laura Kolaczkowski author
    2 years ago

    So true – the flip side is we want to say ‘it can’t possible be my MS getting worse, so it must be something else!’ thank for pointing that out! Laura

  • Laura Kolaczkowski author
    2 years ago

    with a couple different diseases like that I can see how it would be so difficult to distinguish many of the problems, since they can often look similar. -Laura

  • jennyb
    2 years ago

    Some of my problems are from psoriatic arthritis, not MS. It is hard to tell where one stops and the other picks up.

  • Laura Kolaczkowski author
    2 years ago

    oops – it looks like my reply ended up just above you comment.

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