HSP symptoms



 HSP is an incredibly difficult condition to predict. Not everyone will have the same symptoms or to the same severity or timescale. Some people have a very slow and steady progression, some may see a sharp decline then plateau, some may have hardly any issues at all, while others may go from being able bodied to wheelchair bound over a short number of years. HSP has no set pattern or timescale, the following list is a guide to symptoms which are commonly encountered. Most individuals will only experience a few of these.

Around 90% of people with HSP have an uncomplicated, or ‘pure’ form (for more information on Pure and Complicated HSP see HSP Types). This means that symptoms are typically confined to:

  • Lower limb weakness
  • Involuntary spasms / cramps
  • Increased muscle tone and stiffness (spasticity)
  • Urinary problems – such as a frequent sense of urgency
  • A loss of sensation in the feet (sometimes)
  • Fatigue
  • Pain
  • Lower limb weakness
  • Digestive and bowel problems

Other symptoms can include bowel issues, loss of balance, loss of sensation in the feet, and/or pins and needles. The muscle spasticity may also cause toes to curl under and the arch of the foot to change.

People with uncomplicated HSP can usually live a full and independent life, although some adaptions and mobility aids may be required as symptoms progress.

The remaining 10% have a complicated or complex form of HSP. In these types of HSP the symptoms are the same as uncomplicated/pure HSP, but people would have other additional symptoms which may be one or more of:

  • Nerve damage in the feet or other extremities (peripheral neuropathy)
  • Epilepsy
  • Problems with balance, co-ordination and speech (ataxia)
  • Eye problems – such as damage to the retina (retinopathy) and damage to the optic nerve (optic neuropathy)
  • Memory issues
  • Dementia
  • Ichthyosis – a condition that causes widespread and persistent thick, dry, "fish-scale" skin
  • Learning and developmental problems
  • Hearing loss
  • Speech, breathing or swallowing problems.

With some of these additional symptoms, complicated HSP can be life limiting.



Emotional and mental health impact

It should also be noted that people with a physical, lifelong condition such as HSP may also be prone to emotional and mental health issues such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Panic attacks
  • Low self esteem.

Mental health issues are just as important to treat as physical issues. If you are dealing with any of these problems, please visit your GP.