Fatigue May Be Early Sign of MS

Fatigue heralding multiple sclerosis

~Source: Mult Scler, February 25, 2013.

By J. R. Berger et al. 


Background: Fatigue is a common symptom in multiple sclerosis (MS) and is an important determinant of overall well-being and disability.

Objective: To assess the frequency with which fatigue precedes the diagnosis of MS using a retrospective database analysis.

Methods: Between January 1, 2003 and September 30, 2008, patients diagnosed with fatigue with and without fatigue-related medications within a 3-year period prior to newly diagnosed MS were identified from the MarketScan Databases. All statistical analysis was performed using SAS.

Results: Of the 16,976 patients with MS in the overall population, 5305 (31.3%) were newly diagnosed with MS and had three years of continuous healthcare coverage prior to MS diagnosis. Of these patients, 1534 (28.9%) were labeled with chronic fatigue syndrome (ICD9-780.71) or malaise or fatigue (ICD9-780.79) prior to the diagnosis of MS. One-third of these patients were labeled with fatigue one to two years before the diagnosis; 30.8% were diagnosed only with fatigue and had no other MS symptoms prior to their MS diagnosis. Among the patients diagnosed with fatigue, 10.4% were also prescribed medication for fatigue.

Conclusion: This study demonstrates that fatigue may herald MS, often by years. A careful history for transient neurological symptoms and a physical examination is warranted in any patient presenting with fatigue.

Source: Mult Scler. 2013 Feb 25. [Epub ahead of print]. Berger JR, Pocoski J, Preblick R, Boklage S. Department of Neurology, University of Kentucky College of Medicine, Lexington, KY, USA.

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