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laurajh

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My father in law has been having pain in one thigh for about 2 months now. It's not a constant pain, he feels pretty good when he gets up in the morning but after too much walking it comes on and can be sharp, and is relieved by rest. He’s pretty active, not vigorous exercise, but he's always going places and doing something. Not long before all this started he put down an entire wood floor which involves a lot of bending, kneeling and stooping, so he's in pretty good shape for his age. He’s 75. He hasn't mentioned any weakness or twitching, just pain which has stayed the same for 2 months without progression. His doctor referred him to a neurologist thinking it might be sciatica, and he DID have sciatica 10 yrs ago which cleared up on its own. But I thought sciatica involved extreme pain and was more constant, not intermittent, and not even alleviated by rest. When my mother had sciatica there was nothing she could do to ease the pain and she couldn't get comfortable in any position. Plus sitting makes sciatica worse, and his pain is only after walking too long, resting by sitting and putting his leg up helps, and he has no problem sleeping.

He had MRI (no results yet) and the neurologist did say reflexes are normal on one side, less so on the other. That's what scares me most.

The reason I worry so much is because in his family ALS is genetic. His father had it, 2 sisters, & another sister who’s not affected but is a carrier because 2 of her sons have it (3 generations affected). So every time he has pain or health problems of any sort my anxieties go wild. He’s had circulation problems in the leg twice (2 arterial bypass surgeries) and I was freaking over that too until they said it was just vascular. Not long ago he was in the hospital again for chest pain, which turned out to be nothing serious, just the side effect of too much of a diauretic medication. But now I'm panicking more than ever because of his reflexes being off. "Not appropriate" is how the neurologist put it.

I've read it's odd for ALS to first present itself this late in life (75), but then again one of his sisters was 70 or 71 when it hit (and died 3 months short of turning 72) so that theory sort of goes out the window.
I've also read that pain is not typical, at least not until muscle wasting which causes cramps is well under way. He has no noticeable weakness or wasting. I've also read that symtoms typically start in the hands or feet and work their way in...not starting in a thigh. And he describes the pain as “sharp” which doesn’t sound like a cramp to me.

He has been going to physical therapy for a few weeks, being hooked up to a stimulator for 15 minutes 2 times per week. EMS or TENS (I'm not sure which it is he's getting), is used to stimulate muscles or nerves and is said to alleviate pain, but it hasn’t helped.

To recap: Sharp pain in thigh though not constant, with diminished reflex in a 75 year old male....no noticeable weakness or wasting, no twitching. Not a "typical" symptom from what I've heard, but I worry because there is a definite risk of having inherited a screwy gene.

I'd like to hear other peoples' thoughts on these symptoms. Does it sound like als could be a possibility or more likely something else?
 

Al

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Hi Laura. From what you describe it doesn't sound like ALS to me. My wife has sciatic nerve pain and is relieved by resting. It is unusual to get onset of ALS at such a late age but not entirely unheard of. There are quite a few neurological things that could be going on that are not as bad as ALS. Try to stay calm (easier said than done I know) until all the tests are in and even then if you're not sure or satisfied get a second opinion. Good luck.
 
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