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My son, age 30, Caucasian, Northern European, Scandinavian

descent known has been having...
My son, age 30, Caucasian, Northern European, Scandinavian descent known has been having trouble with symptoms since college. There is history of depression in father's family, also pernicious anemia on father's side. There is history of type II diabetes on both sides of family. He is not much over weight for height of 5 feet 7 inches. When he first began having problems at the end of college, he had a work-up for his symptoms, which were fatigue, muscular weakness, low back and neck pain. His childhood history included fainting and numbness and tingling in his arms. His complaints were persistent enough that we decided to pursue pediatric neurology, ophthalmology, and cardiology referrals which were done at grade school age. The only thing we found out was that he did have mild prolapsed mitral valve at which time we were given option of treating with beta blockers and we decided against this.
At the end of college years, he was given Klonopin, and anti-anxiety medications by our family physician. These only seemed to make his problems worse, according to him.
After college, he was employed full-time, but binge drinking. He has called me on several occasions while he was drinking.
Now he has been saying he can hardly walk up steps at times, has difficulty holding his head up due to weakness, has neck and low back pain. He is presently working part-time and unhappy with a job with no benefits.
I have asked his older brother, with whom he has been living several years to get him to go to AA, but there is generally no cooperation from either of them. I have no other family members to help with this. I know this really sounds stupid. Is there anything I can do? He has been to a doctor recently because he decided that oral B-12 stops the neck and back pain and other symptoms. The doctor told him to stop taking the supplement so they could test him for whatever because the 5000 mcg had caused his blood level to be off the scale. Is is possible that he does have some non psycho somatic disorder causing him to self-medicate or is it just depression?
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Answered in 12 minutes by:
6/14/2013
Dr. Das, MD
Dr. Das, MD, Doctor
Category: Medical
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Hello,
Welcome and thank you for your question.
I am sorry to hear of the problems your son is going through. But the detailed description of his symptoms that you have submitted indicates that his symptoms are more likely to be psychosomatic than due to a definite cause.
But one common cause for back pain is a slipped or herniated spinal disc. This is not common in the young age group but can sometime occur. A slipped disc will press on the nerves to the muscles of the back causing pain as well as muscle weakness.
The only positive finding in his teenage years was mild prolapsed mitral valve - this would not cause neck pain and back pain.
The alcohol problem that he has can be due to depression and anxiety. Binge drinking and alcoholism can also cause muscle pain due to a defective posture while drinking or lying down after drinking.
Taking Vitamin B will not help.
Please ask your son to get an MRI of the back - this will be diagnostic of any cause for his back pain.
I hope this helps.
Dr. Das, MD
Dr. Das, MD, Doctor
Category: Medical
Satisfied Customers: 2,258
Experience: MBBS, MD, with wide experience in all aspects of medical treatment, including cancer therapy.
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Customer reply replied 4 years ago

I think my only hope is that he will allow the internist to check him out for possible liver damage due to alcoholism. He completely avoids the idea that he is an alcoholic. He constantly compares himself to his older brother who also has had psychological problems, but has been successful in his job and has recently married. I guess I am asking if I should just back off and wait for him to ask for help. He has called with concerns about the B 12 and feels his symptoms are instantly better with taking it.

Of my three children, he has always been the one who takes life more seriously. Your answer was the only one I could come up with because of the persistent back and neck pain. I am afraid for him . He often tells me he feels too bad to talk, can't think straight without the B 12.

Mary,
Thank you for the reply.
Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause fatigue, depression and memory loss. But in your son's case, unless he goes off the medicine and then takes a blood test, it will be difficult to say if his depression is due to Vitamin B12 deficiency or psychological.
I do not think that you should hold off and wait for him to ask for help. It will be better to take a more proactive role and get him examined - the earlier he gets treated, either physically or psychologically, the better.
I hope this helps.
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Customer reply replied 4 years ago

Yes, I am going to suggest that he get a full work-up. I don't believe there has even been a chemistry done yet.

He shows symptoms of what I think is agitated depression. He has recently said that he is going back to college. I think this is because he has recently met a girl he likes who is ambitious. I am afraid his dependency needs will cause him to have problems with her as he has had in the past. Psychologically, I believe he has no insight into his problems.

I will definitely try to help him. Thank you for listening and giving an objective view of things.

Mary,
I hope your son gets an early diagnosis and recovers well.
With Regards.
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