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Posts Tagged ‘Multiple sclerosis MS’

Pain and Numbness from Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Monday, October 7th, 2013



If you suffer from pins and needles and painful burning or tingling in your hands and feet, then you may have vitamin B12 deficiency. There are many causes of chronic pain and numbness, most of them strongly linked to extremely low vitamin B12 levels or resulting  pernicious anemia.

Pain and Numbness from Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Getting enough vitamin B12?

Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient for your nervous system, but sometimes we don’t get enough, either because of diet or underlying health issues.

Eating a vegan diet devoid of B12-rich meats, fish, and cheese is one way of developing vitamin B12 deficiency, but it is also common in the elderly and people who have had gastrointestinal surgery such as gastric bypass.

Vitamin B12 deficiency can also occur with migraine, fibromyalgia, and other forms of chronic pain, as autoimmune history and gastrointestinal problems combine to further raise your chances for developing vitamin B12 deficiency and resulting nerve pain.

If you’re experiencing constant nerve pain and numbness, then you should consider vitamin B12 deficiency as a possible cause.

Vitamin B12 deficiency neuropathy

Neuropathy is any kind of nerve damage that causes intense pain and numbness. Diabetic neuropathy is one of the most common forms of nerve pain, but it can also occur as a result of vitamin B12 deficiency or, if prolonged, pernicious anemia.

Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency neuropathy include:

  • Painful numbness and tingling in the extremities
  • Burning or itchy skin rashes
  • Sore burning tongue
  • Difficulty controlling arm and leg movements
  • Muscle spasms

Vitamin B12 and your nerves

Vitamin B12 protects your nervous system by sustaining myelin, a fatty substance that insulates your nerve fibers and enhances intercellular communication, so that sensory messages travel along the spinal cord to the brain quickly and efficiently.

When vitamin B12 levels become depleted, you suffer symptoms resulting from demyelination, destruction of the nerve cell’s outer coating. This is the same process that occurs in patients of multiple sclerosis (MS).

Nervous impulses become slower, and symptoms of tingling, burning, pain and numbness from vitamin B12 deficiency become more frequent.

Untreated, vitamin B12 deficiency can impair your nervous system and cause severe handicaps.

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)


Vitamin B12 deficiency is often comorbid with diabetes. Diabetics taking metformin are at a high risk for developing vitamin B12 deficiency, as metformin is one of several drugs that prevent absorption of vitamin B12 from foods.

If you are a diabetic using metformin, then it’s crucial sustain vitamin B12 levels through supplementation.

Vitamin B12 Deficiency and Fibromyalgia Pain Types

Vitamin B12 deficiency is harder to diagnose in people with diabetes, as the symptoms of pain and numbness are already masked by preexisting diabetic neuropathy. Routine vitamin B12 blood tests are recommended for all diabetics using metformin.

Treating nerve pain and numbness

If nerve pain results from vitamin B12 deficiency, then it’s important to boost your intake of vitamin B12 immediately.

The best, most digestible sources of vitamin B12 are non-dietary supplements that are absorbed into your bloodstream, as opposed to vitamin B12 pills that you swallow.

For best results, start out with 1,000mcg of vitamin B12 weekly or more often, as needed or recommended by your doctor.

Your doctor may prescribe antidepressants for neuropathic pain, or he may advise anti-convulsant drugs. All of these, over extended periods of time, may result in uncomfortable side effects, so use with caution.

Topical treatments used to relive arthritis may help to relieve nerve pain, without any harmful side effects.

Your turn!

If you suffer nerve pain and numbness, have you been tested for vitamin B12 deficiency?

Do you have any questions or suggestions?  Please leave your comments below.

Share with your friends!

If you found this article helpful, then please share with your friends, family, and coworkers by email, twitter, or Facebook.

Like this? Read more:

Do-It-Yourself Chronic Pain Management- 6 Helpful Tips

Help- My Legs keep Falling Asleep!

What are the Symptoms of Pernicious Anemia- B12 deficiency?

Image courtesy of marin/freedigitalphotos

Is it Pernicious Anemia or Multiple Sclerosis? Part 1

Thursday, February 28th, 2013



Pernicious anemia (PA) and multiple sclerosis (MS) are both autoimmune disorders that cause fatigue, chronic pain, and physical handicaps, but that is where their similarities end. If that’s the case, why are so many doctors quick to diagnose multiple sclerosis before testing for simple vitamin B12 deficiency from pernicious anemia?

Is it Pernicious Anemia or Multiple=

Pernicious anemia

Pernicious anemia (PA) is a medical condition that causes vitamin B12 deficiency. Over time, plummeting levels of vitamin B12 cause many debilitating symptoms- muscle pain, numbness, spasms, fatigue- all as a result of diminished red blood cells and impaired neurological functioning.

Without enough vitamin B12 in your system make plenty of healthy blood cells, you wind up feeling constantly tired, unfocused, disoriented, and depressed.

Vitamin B12 is also needed to produce myelin, a substance which protects your nerve cells from harm. That’s why pernicious anemia symptoms such as chronic pain, numbness, tingling in the arms and legs, and mobility difficulties may reveal a weakened nervous system caused by insufficient vitamin B12 levels.

Gradually, depleted vitamin B12 may cause further irreparable damage to the nervous system, in addition to increased risk for stroke, heart attack, and age-related dementia.

Only immediate vitamin B12 supplementation can reverse the symptoms of pernicious anemia, and prevent future relapses.

Multiple sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis also affects the nervous system, causing severe muscle pain, paralysis, and multiple neurological problems, some of which are similar to those experienced with pernicious anemia, only on a much higher level.  People with MS struggle to manage relapses their whole lives, as it is a chronic illness that is difficult to control.

While pernicious anemia is easily treated with strict vitamin B12 supplementation, multiple sclerosis is much harder to manage, requiring various medications formulated to relieve specific symptoms.

Pernicious Anemia Misdiagnosed as MS- It Happens!

What causes multiple sclerosis?

Scientists aren’t positive exactly what causes multiple sclerosis, but they do know that Caucasian females are the highest risk factor for MS.

Like pernicious anemia, multiple sclerosis symptoms may be part of an autoimmune disorder. Scientists believe that MS may be triggered by an infection, which the immune system begins to attack. After fighting off the infection, your body continues to attack, this time mistaking your nerve cells’ myelin- the same substance supported by vitamin B12- as a threat. So the cycle continues, creating damage to the central nervous system and prolonging debilitating symptoms of multiple sclerosis.

This article continues in Part 2, including symptoms of multiple sclerosis and diagnosis…

Your turn!

Do you have any questions or suggestions?  Please leave your comments below.

Share with your friends!

If you found this article helpful, then please share with your friends, family, and coworkers by email, Facebook, or Google+.

Like this? Read more:

Pernicious Anemia and Vitamin B12 Deficiency: Which Causes Which?

Can Vitamin B12 Repair Nerve Cells?

15 Chronic Pain Causes and 15 Treatments (Vitamin B12 is one)


Multiple Sclerosis Overview

Image courtesy of A Health Blog/flickr

Pernicious Anemia Misdiagnosed as MS- It Happens!

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012



Pernicious anemia is hard to catch in its earliest stages; oftentimes, pernicious anemia is misdiagnosed as belonging to a “copycat” illness. Multiple sclerosis (MS) is one such disease that hundreds of doctors hastily assign to patients suffering from fatigue, numbness, and muscle pain- all symptoms commonly associated with B12 deficiency from pernicious anemia.

Pernicious Anemia Misdiagnosed as MS- It Happens! B12 Patch

Pernicious anemia, migraines, or…MS?

According to a study conducted by scientists at Oregon Health and Science University, over 95% of doctors have suspected a misdiagnosis in at least one MS patient coming to them for a second opinion.

A further 75% of doctors have noted a multiple sclerosis misdiagnosis in at least three patients the previous year.

As with many other mysterious chronic pain illnesses, such as fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome, there are no foolproof methods for diagnosing multiple sclerosis.

 Doctors can issue MRIs in order to detect brain lesions, or they can hope to find evidence of oligoclonal bands (O-bands) in your blood supply, but for the most part, confirming MS is a process of elimination.

And eliminating other health conditions, such as pernicious anemia, that cause symptoms similar to MS isn’t so easy, because the list is long.

Below is a sort list of illnesses that are misdiagnosed as multiple sclerosis:

  • Pernicious anemia (vitamin B12 deficiency), a type of megaloblastic anemia that, like multiple sclerosis, also causes demyelination (damage to the nerve cells’ myelin sheath)
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Lyme disease
  • Lupus
  • Hughes syndrome
  • Optic neuritis
  • Migraines
  • Psychiatric disease

(Also read: 9 Conditions that Mimic Fibromyalgia and Vitamin B12 Deficiency)

PA vs. MS

It’s understandable that doctors would fail to detect vitamin B12 deficiency-pernicious anemia in patients complaining of arm numbness, chronic fatigue, or severe chronic pain.  Blood tests designed to detect low vitamin B12 levels are not always accurate, and there exist no tests that specifically determine multiple sclerosis.

Both multiple sclerosis and pernicious anemia are demyelinating illnesses that cause peripheral neuropathy, or peripheral nerve damage.

With multiple sclerosis, doctors aren’t certain exactly what causes deterioration of myelin, a fatty coating what protects your nerve cells from damage or destruction.

Vitamin B12 deficiency from pernicious anemia is more easily explained, as vitamin B12 is active in sustaining myelin, and a depletion of vitamin B12 likewise causes neurological ailments that exactly mimic the symptoms experienced by multiple sclerosis.

Symptoms of pernicious anemia and MS

Symptoms of multiple sclerosis that mimic pernicious anemia include:

  • Painful tingling and numbness in the extremities, including hands, feet, arms, legs, and tongue
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Muscle pain and twitches, or spasms
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Memory loss
  • Confusion, or “brain fog”
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty controlling arm or leg movements
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Gastrointestinal problems

Please tell us…

Do you have any questions or suggestions?  Please leave your comments below.

Share with your friends!

If you found this article helpful, then please share with your friends, family, and coworkers by email, Facebook, or Google+.

Like this? Read more:

Pain and Numbness in the Arms- 13 Causes

Pernicious Anemia and Vitamin B12 Deficiency: Which Causes Which?


Why hundreds of patients a year are misdiagnosed with MS

The Differential Diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis

Diseases That Mimic MS

What causes MS?

Image(s) courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If Vitamin B12 Deficiency Mimics Multiple Sclerosis, How do you tell the Difference?

Thursday, January 12th, 2012



Many studies show similarities between the symptoms of Vitamin B12 deficiency and multiple sclerosis (MS).  There is also a very high rate of B12 deficiency among people diagnosed with MS.  How, then, does one differentiate between pernicious anemia (vitamin B12 deficiency) and multiple sclerosis?


What is MS?

Multiple sclerosis is a disease that affects your central nervous system- your brain and spinal cord.  It typically strikes young adults between the ages of 20-40, most of them women.  

The exact cause of MS is unknown, but most scientists believe it is an autoimmune disorder.  With multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune reaction attacks myelin, a fatty substance that insulates your nerve fibers responsible for transmitting messages to the rest of your body.  

Signs of demyelination are random lesions, or plaques (sclerosis) in the brain and spinal cord, in multiple areas, thus the term “multiple sclerosis.”

What is B12 deficiency?

Vitamin B12 deficiency occurs when your body is unable to maintain sufficient stores of vitamin B12 (cobalamin) in the blood.  There are several reasons this may happen, such as not eating food sources of vitamin B12 (meat, fish, and milk), or having a gastrointestinal disorder that interferes with vitamin B12 absorption. 

With pernicious anemia (PA), your body cannot make intrinsic factor (IF), a protein necessary for digesting vitamin B12, due to an autoimmune disorder.  

Among its many other benefits, vitamin B12 is essential for building up the fatty myelin sheath.  One of the symptoms of PA is demyelination, the same type of brain damage that occurs with MS.

*Multiple sclerosis and vitamin B12 deficiency- pernicious anemia are both autoimmune disorders.

*Multiple sclerosis and vitamin B12 deficiency-pernicious anemia both involve damage to the nervous system’s myelin sheath.

What are the symptoms of multiple sclerosis?

The earliest symptoms of MS may include:

  • Muscular weakness in one or more limbs
  • Tingling or numbness
  • Loss of balance
  • Vision problems or eye pain
  • Slurred speech

As the disease advances, symptoms worsen, including:

  • Chronic fatigue, despite getting plenty of rest and not overexerting yourself
  • Hypersensitivity to heat, such as hot showers or baths
  • Muscular spasms in the legs and arms
  • Bladder or bowel control problems
  • Lightheadedness, or vertigo caused by nerve damage
  • Cognitive impairment- “brain fog,” slowed thinking, lack of concentration, or memory loss
  • Vision problems- blurring or graying of vision, or temporary blindness in one eye
  • Painful “pins and needles” sensations, numbness, itching, or burning
  • Speech and swallowing problems caused by damaged nerves
  • Seizures
  • Difficulty walking without stumbling, caused by muscle weakness, spasticity, or loss of balance from vertigo
  • Paralysis

What are the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency?

The most common symptoms of B12 deficiency and pernicious anemia are:

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Painful “pins and needles” or numbness in hands and feet
  • Sore, swollen red tongue
  • Burning mouth sensation
  • Difficulty walking without stumbling
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • “Brain fog”
  • Shortness of breath

*Multiple sclerosis and vitamin B12 deficiency-pernicious anemia both cause nerve damage, including painful tingling or numbness in the hands and feet and impaired gait.

*Multiple sclerosis and vitamin B12 deficiency-pernicious anemia both cause cognitive impairment, like brain fog, memory loss, and low concentration.

Which tests diagnose multiple sclerosis?

There is more than one test used to confirm MS, and your doctor will need to use the process of elimination to exclude other illnesses.  Some common tests and indicators are:

  • MRI scan indicating at least two incidences myelin damage- scar tissue (lesions)
  • Neurological exams
  • Blood tests
  • Spinal tap
  • Evoked potentials, an electrical test of your nervous impulses

Which tests diagnose vitamin B12 deficiency?

Only one test is required to diagnose vitamin B12 deficiency- a blood test indicating low blood serum levels of vitamin B12.  Patients of pernicious anemia require routine blood tests in order to monitor their B12 levels.

What’s the best treatment for multiple sclerosis?

There is no cure for MS, but various medications are helpful for dealing with the symptoms.

  • Some prescribed medicines work by controlling your body’s autoimmune response, thus reducing the frequency and severity of MS symptoms.
  • Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a controversial surgery used to treat debilitating tremors in people with MS. Complications may include paralysis, loss of vision, or loss of speech.
  • Alternative medicine options that benefits MS patients include physical therapy, exercise like yoga or tai chi, acupuncture, aromatherapy, meditation, massage, and vitamin supplementation.

What’s the best treatment for vitamin B12 deficiency?

There are many kinds of B12 supplements on the market, but it’s important to be certain if you are able to digest vitamin B12 in the stomach. If you lack intrinsic factor, or if you’ve had gastrointestinal surgery like gastric bypass, then you will not benefit from dietary forms of vitamin B12.

  • Physicians normally prescribe a series of B12 shots for patients with pernicious anemia.  These vitamin B12 injections require a prescription, and not all health care providers cover extensive supplementation of vitamin B12 shots.
  • Sublingual vitamin B12 pills that dissolve under the tongue are another option, although they are not very effective, and they often require dosages of three times per day.

Read more about vitamin B12 symptoms:

Vitamin B12 Deficiency- 4 Causes, 1 Solution

Absorbing Vitamin B12, a Metabolic Gastrointestinal Journey

Sore Burning Tongue, Dry Mouth, and Weird Tastes- What’s the Cause?


Multiple sclerosis

Vitamin B12, demyelination, remyelination and repair in multiple sclerosis

WebMD Multiple Sclerosis Guide – Better Information for Better Health

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