Old 01-22-2014, 12:44 PM #1
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Question Weakness in one arm - is it perceived?

Firstly, I want to thank all of you, with or without ALS, for participating in this forum. It is a wonderful treasure for me to have found and I wish each of you peace and love as you and your loved ones make this journey.

Let me start by saying that I am a real hypochondriac. The slightest lump in my throat and my mind immediately goes to cancer. A dull ache in my chest and my mind goes to heart disease. I am an anxious person. I have been to the doctor on numerous occasions over the past 5 years, had CT scans, X-Rays, blood work, all reinforcing my mother's insisting that I am a healthy person with a healthy constitution. But still, my mind wanders.

My father was diagnosed with ALS in August 2011. His presented with drop foot in his left leg. He has declined gradually over the last 3 years. First to a walking cane, then wheel chair, then motorized chair. He has lost all function in his legs, except for one toe that he can wiggle sightly. His arms are weak to the point he can no longer hold a glass to drink. His speech has declined over the last 3 months and while we can still communicate, he cannot speak at length and certain syllables and consanants give him trouble. His breathing is labored and he uses oxygen for a few hours each day to help relieve headaches and help get to sleep.

There is no family history of ALS other than my father. He has four older siblings, none of whom have ALS. His parents died of heart disease as did all his uncles. We have not conducted genetic testing, and do not plan to. When he was diagnosed, he was told it was unlikely that his was Familial ALS.

All that said, I am concerned about some weakness in my left arm.

I am a 28 year old male. In my 10 years of adulthood, I smoked cigarettes on and off for about 10 years. I have used marijuana (vaporize, not smoke) pretty heavily since 2006. By that I mean almost daily use.

In November of 2013 I noted some weakness in my left arm. It felt sore, as though I had been lifting heavy weights. In fact, I had, helping my wife to move furniture to a craft fair loading on and off a truck and in and out of our home and the convention center. I dismissed the weakness as a result of this effort. But, the sensation has continued. I thought I had pinched a nerve by sleeping on my arm funny, so I've tried sleeping on my other side or on my back but with no change.

It is not a constant pain, but a dull ache that seems to be deep in the arm. The pain is centered in my upper arm and at my elbow and upper forearm. Some days it seems to be "more" at pain than others.

I also began to notice dexterity in my fingers in the left hand. I don't know whether I've noticed an actual change, or if I'm simply now concentrating on this. I am right-handed and so perhaps I've always been weaker in my left arm. Activities like drying my hair after a shower, it seems to be harder to hold the towel in my left arm than my right.

I work on a computer and for a period of about 2 weeks it seemed like I had some difficulty typing with my left hand. I did some online typing tests periodically, and my speed stayed consistent. Again, I dismissed the weakness as the onset of arthritis or carpel tunnel or the like.

Since November, there does not seem to be any progression... I don't feel "worse" nor have I lost the ability to do any daily functions. I found strength tests to do with a partner, and my wife and I have done them and I pass with flying colors. I do push-ups every day and although my left arm feels somewhat sore, I haven't noted any change in my ability here, either.

This is complicated by the fact that I use marijuana. I don't know whether my marijuana use may have exacerbated my worry/paranoia, or, as I've read since my father's diagnosis, is perhaps helping me to "fight" ALS.


I guess what I'm looking for is some reassurance that I don't have ALS, or for someone to say "hey! that sounds like my early symptoms."

Thanks in advance for your questions, comments and thoughts.
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Old 01-22-2014, 12:47 PM #2
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Default Re: Weakness in one arm - is it perceived?

Sorry, to clarify a point: I had smoked cigarettes on and off for TWO of ten years.
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Old 01-22-2014, 12:51 PM #3
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Default Re: Weakness in one arm - is it perceived?

Go see a neurologist. Your father's doc is probably a good place to start. Good luck and God Bless.
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Old 01-22-2014, 02:32 PM #4
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Default Re: Weakness in one arm - is it perceived?

Only a doctor can help, and I agree seeing your fathers doctor is a good place to start. Please understand the reality of this disease impacting on the time it takes for people who really have it to type on a forum.

I hope you find your answers with your doctors
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Old 01-22-2014, 02:56 PM #5
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Default Re: Weakness in one arm - is it perceived?

Thanks very much for your feedback, I do appreciate it. My father's physician is several states away from me, but I will reach out to her about this. I'll be sure to share any news here in this thread in case it might help others in the future.
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Old 01-22-2014, 03:43 PM #6
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Default Re: Weakness in one arm - is it perceived?

Hi Patrick.
Like everyone else I suggest you get a referral to a neurologist.
Marijuana is a natural muscle relaxant that's why its used in ms or parkinsons disease.
I would suggest you start weaning yourself off before seeing a neurologist as it could interfere with tests involving your muscles i.e reflex tests ect.
Sorry to hear about your dads diagnosis.
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