NHS Question

It is shocking how many people feel the health system has failed them in the UK. Though I often feel this is from a lack of communication between doctor and patient..
See my recent question at “Ask Dr Jenna’ on www.pallmallmedical.co.uk

Recent questions answered by Dr Jenna Burton

I have multiple issues and some already diagnosed conditions. Recently I have had new symptoms and old ones that I’m still not sure what’s wrong. These include my hand freezing, unable to open doors, neck pain with vomiting, constant nagging shoulder and hip pain, frequent numbness with shooting pains, leg twitches, double vision, blurred vision, confusion, fatigue, knee pain, foot cramps, tingling and more. My question really is that I go to the GP and I get tested for one thing quite often. I get concerned that they are looking in one area. Say a neurologist, but also might have something wrong with my neck / back. Then they look for one type of disease and if they don’t find it I am sent away. Plus the doctor is treating me to see if I respond to MS medication. I would prefer a firm diagnosis of whatever I have. What would you advise so I can be sure that I have a thorough testing and diagnosis? Also, I should say face to face I get confused. So I might go to a neurologist or someone else and then forget what I need to say, and because it’s based on what I say I only see them one time and feel I am missing something.
Asked by Rowan
Dear Rowan,

I am sorry that you are having such a difficult time with medical treatment. You say you get confused face to face, I wonder if this because you feel overwhelmed/nervous or because english is not your mother tongue? The most important start to any patient doctor relationship is to find someone whom you feel comfortable with and are not afraid to ask questions to, or point out if you feel ‘lost’ half way through. If English is not your first language, have you looked around for a doctor who speaks your own native language?

The symptoms you are describing do sound neurological in nature, so I can understand your doctor referring you to a neurologist. Even though a trial of MS (multiple sclerosis) medication may seem illogical when they do not have a firm diagnosis, if you improve after treatment – it will give your doctors involved a lot of information regarding your nervous system and the cause of your condition.

You note that doctors are looking in one area only. Your symptoms are vast and cover most bodily functions. It is a common habit of medical doctors to look down one avenue at a time. This is so they can thoroughly ‘tick’ off one box at a time and prevents treatment becoming complicated and confused. You need a clear action plan, not one which tries to cover everything at once but does not get you anywhere.

Also do not forget that every doctor in their junior training will have learnt about all other diseases and a wide range of specialties. So when you see the neurologist, he will also be considering your hormones, your autoimmune system and your musculoskeletal system as well – not just his specialist interest in neurology.

I appreciate the desire for a diagnosis. It can be scary when you do not know what is going on inside of you. But please be patient and try to trust the doctors you have working around you. It seems as if they do have a medical structure in place and an idea of what is going on even if they have not expressed this thoroughly to you. Everything they do is for a reason and try to express any concerns you may have.

Good luck and take care,


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