I pit “idiopathic” problems. It seems every time I go back to the doctor with a complaint, a bunch of tests are done and then it’s diagnosed as “idiopathic something or other.” Which basically translates to: “She’s got pains in this area all right, but we’re not quite sure why. Oh, well.”

I feel like a pathetic idiot (how I always read “idiopathic”) for continuing to throw my (non-existent) money at medical personnel who tell me “Huh. Dunno.” Surely there’s a ghods-be-damned cause somewhere? Surely there’s something I can do to prevent future pain? Surely my ever-increasing list of idiopathies point to some over-reaching diagnosis? I told my doc this morning that I’m starting to feel like a whiny baby, that I’m worried maybe I’m just a hypochondriac and he’s humoring me. He assured me that “something IS going on, we just don’t know what yet.” sigh

Anyway. I guess I’m just ranting and raving that doctors aren’t perfect and can’t know everything. Damn it, it’s 2008 - where are my Futuristic Diagnostic Robotic Docs??


I think I’m going to start calling pathologically stupid people “idiopaths.”

I know it doesn’t make sense, but it sounds funny. And an idiopath wouldn’t know what it really means, anyway!

If it makes you feel any better it’s frustrating for the doctor too. Certainly not as frustrating as it is for you but still frustrating. Generally speaking, doctors like to solve problems and fix things. So when I get a patient in the ER who has, say, abdominal pain and their labs, abdominal/pelvic ultrasound, and abdominal CT are totally normal it’s frustrating. I want there to be a cause that I can treat. Or even if it’s a cause I can’t treat people generally derive some comfort from knowing what’s going on. So I end up just treating their pain. Which is better than doing nothing but not as good as being able to treat the underlying cause of the pain as well.

Funny, I’ve always called them ‘homeopaths’.

I’m sure these vague diagnoses are as unsatisfactory to give as they are to receive. This is why those Futuristic Robotic Docs need to hop off the assembly line, pronto! They won’t mind displaying “insufficient data” much. :slight_smile:


I once got gawked at by a bunch of medical students for my idiopathic problem. The specialist escorted them all into the room and said, “This is a girl with Problem X. We don’t know why, as she’s young, slim, and healthy, and we’ve run a bunch of tests and nothing’s come up. Weird!” Then they all nodded at each other and agreed it was weird. Then they left.

Nobody ever did figure it out and I continue to be on medication many years later.


I feel you on that. I’ve got idiopathic hearing loss myself. Kinda amusing such a huge part of my life and how i grew up and all- and it’s just due to unknown reasons. But I then later read that a great majority of hearing loss comes from Idiopathic sources, over 50-60% of them just happen, with no real idea of what’s going on. So I guess it’s more common in some areas than others.

But yeah, I hear your pain.

But not very well, presumably.

Happened to me with my blood pressure. Every 6 months I would see the doc and my BP would be 120/70 and then I saw him one time and it was 180/120. He thought all sorts of dramatic things like adrenal gland tumors. I spent months going around a string of specialists having exhaustive tests, all free of course ( I live in Australia), and the end result was “idiopathic hypertension”. I got healthy, gave up smoking but it didn’t help, I’m still on drugs for it.

You should go to Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital. I understand they have a good diagnostician there.

Yeah, but he’d half-kill her a couple of times before he found out what the problem is, and she’d end up needing a kidney transplant or something. But he’d figure out what the cause is, by gum!

Maybe it’s lupus.

Fortunately the symptoms don’t fit lupus! The possibilities range from “harmless” to “stage 2 cancer” according to my limited medical google-fu. So while I’m certainly keeping my fingers crossed for the first, my brain is working overtime worrying about the second. The weird part is that if I just KNEW it was some awful, fatal, something or other I’d probably deal with it better than this state of unease and ignorance. I’m weird like that.


P.S. But Hugh can check me out anytime. :wink:

Happened to me, about 20 years ago. I was driving down the road when my left ear suddenly became muffled and began ringing with a high-pitched whine. Saw several specialists, had a battery of tests which found nothing. “Sometimes people’s hearing just goes away,” they said. My confidence in modern medicine, like my hearing, was irreparably damaged that day and neither has improved in the years since.

It’s never lupus.


OK, let’s run some bizarre tests and then I’ll biopsy her liver without entering the room.

Meanwhile, I’ll break into her house and see if her dog is suffering from unusually high levels of dental plaque.

It’s sarcoidosis.

My differential includes:

  1. Amyloidosis
  2. Eosinophilic fasciitis
  3. Carbuncular trollopsy

Believe me, I hear you! (My hearing’s fine, even if other things about me suck).

I’ve had a ton of health issues, while my hubby has had almost none.

My thumbs (not my other fingers mind you, just my thumbs) occasionally “pop” of their own accord (like cracking your knuckles, but without my tugging on them or anything). Poor naive thing that he is, my hubby thinks I should ask our doctor about it! :eek::smiley:

He has no idea that he would order thousands of dollars worth of tests (most of them paid for by our insurance, thank Og), and in the end, tell me, “well, gosh, I dunno; I’m pretty sure it’s nothing dangerous”.

All because when my thumbs “pop”, it sort of annoys him.

Poor little naive dear has no clue. :smack: