Unsolved Medical Mysteries That Stump Doctors to This Day

  • As far as medical science has gone, it still can’t explain everything wrong with us.

Doctors spend years and a ridiculous amount of money to acquire the detailed knowledge of anatomy, biology, chemistry, and other science they need to do their jobs. But at the end of their training, they will have the tools they need to tell people what’s ailing them and how to cure it.

Well, that’s true in most cases. Sometimes, though, doctors encounter a patient with such a bizarre condition that even the most skilled of them have no idea what to do.

Here’s a collection of medical mysteries that have gone unsolved to this day.

“What the hell are we looking at?” “I figured you’d know.”

1) Water Allergy

Water makes up most of the human body — around 60%. With water being such an integral part of your basic biological structure, you’d imagine it’s impossible to be allergic to it.

But some unfortunate people suffer from aquagenic urticaria, or water allergy in simpler terms. They can drink water, but that’s about all they can do with it.

If these people are exposed to water — say, by taking a shower — their skin will erupt in itchy and sometimes painful red blisters. That means you can’t swim, be out in the rain, or really even wash yourself.

Even sweating can trigger the symptoms in the worst cases. Water allergy is extremely rare, with only a handful of known cases, and doctors can’t agree on what causes it.

2) Stiff Person Syndrome

Stiff Person Syndrome (SPS) is a medical condition that can leave a person a prisoner inside their own body. This condition causes involuntary, extreme muscle spasms and rigidity in the limbs.

That means your muscles start cramping up and stiffening on their own, leaving SPS patients unable to control their own limbs. They can end up completely paralyzed for hours or even days on end, all the while being fully conscious and in agonizing pain.

And when we say extreme muscle spasms, we mean it. There have been cases where the spasms have been so strong that they’ve snapped the patient’s bones.

Doctors don’t have a full understanding on what causes SPS, but they’re getting closer to figuring it out. They think it might have something to do with your immune system going into maximum overdrive and starting to attack your brain and spinal cord.

But until they figure out exactly what’s going on, there’s little they can do about SPS.

3) Morgellons Disease

Imagine constantly feeling that something is crawling under your skin. Combine that with itchy skin sores that have strange, fibrous… Things growing out of them, and you have something that should belong in a horror movie.

But that’s everyday life for people suffering from Morgellons disease. Modern medical science doesn’t understand what the stuff growing out from under their skin is and why they feel the constant itching.

Some doctors believe that a certain bacterium, called Agrobacterium, is behind Morgellons disease. This bacterium causes tumors in plants, and could explain the parasitical symptoms if the disease.

Others, however, think that Morgellons disease doesn’t exist. People suffering from the disease have been diagnosed with delusional parasitosis — a psychological condition where the person believes they’re infected by a parasite.

But how would that explain the skin growths? Nobody knows.

4) Foreign Accent Syndrome

This might just be one of the weirdest conditions on this list. When people develop foreign accent syndrome (FAS), they suddenly start speaking in a weird accent — even if they’ve never heard it before.

In one case, from 1941, a Norwegian woman who had been injured during an air raid suddenly started speaking in a German accent. With the WWII going on, you can imagine that didn’t exactly go down well.

What causes FAS is a mystery. For the longest time, doctors thought it was a psychological disorder, but now the consensus has since shifted to treating it as a neurological condition.

FAS has been triggered by everything from traumatic brain injury and stroke to multiple sclerosis. In some cases, there’s no clear cause — the patient just suddenly developed an accent for an unknow reason.

Doctors do, however, have an idea of why FAS sufferers pick up accents they’ve never heard. They don’t actually speak in an “accent” — their speech just gets garbled in a way that sounds foreign to the listener.

5) Disembarkment Syndrome

If you’ve been on a long trip on a boat, you may have needed to regain your “land legs” after stepping ashore. While you did so, you may have felt that the grounds sways and wobbles under your feet.

That’s how people with disembarkment syndrome feel most, if not all of the time. They can never escape that unnerving sensation of nonexistent motion.

The condition is usually triggered by traveling in a vehicle — not just a boat, but also a car, plane, or even an elevator. Doctors think disembarkment syndrome has something to do with the brain failing to readjust to the body no longer moving with the vehicle.

There’s no known cure to the condition, although doctors have tried things vibrating socks to help the brain recalibrate itself. The only thing that seems to work is to just grit your teeth and go through with the ride, which usually lasts about an hour.

People suffering from migraines and women aged between 30 and 60 seem to be more susceptible to disembarkment syndrome. But that doesn’t really help doctors figure out what’s actually going on.

6) Syndrome X

Brooke Greenberg died in 2013, when she was only 20 years old. But if you’d met her just before her death, you wouldn’t have believed she’s 20.

Greenberg stopped aging when she was 5. The only parts of her body that continued to grow were her hair and nails. In every other way, she got stuck in time.

Doctors tried giving her growth hormones, but they had no effect on the girl. Several genetic studies showed that her DNA was completely normal, with none of the mutations associated with aging disorders.

Greenberg was born prematurely, but that was the only thing unusual about her — apart from not aging. Her parents and siblings are all healthy, without any medical issues.

To this day, doctors are utterly perplexed about why Greenberg never grew up. They’ve titled her condition Syndrome X, and it remains one of the biggest medical mysteries ever encountered.