Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms

Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms

Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms
Symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS) vary from patient to patient. Central neuropathic pain, a constant burning sensation affecting the limbs, is the most common pain symptom among sufferers. Poor digestion is another frequent complaint. Check out our expert answers to learn more, including the best ways to manage your MS symptoms.

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    Try this exercise if you have dysarthria, a term used to describe a group of speech disturbances related to muscular control in the speech mechanism. Take a deep breath, open your mouth wide and say “Ahh” for as long and loud as you can until you have no more air left in your lungs. On average, men should be able to sustain “Ahh” for 20 to 40 seconds, while women should be able to sustain “Ahh” for 15 to 35 seconds. This deceptively effective exercise increases breath support, improves control over expiratory intercostal muscles and improves vocal volume and intelligibility (speech clarity).
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    If you have multiple sclerosis (MS), you may be aware of subtle changes to your speech. Do people ever ask you to repeat yourself? If so, you may be experiencing something called dysarthria. Dysarthria is a term used to describe a group of speech disturbances related to muscular control in the speech mechanism. It’s due to damage to the nervous system.

    There are many different types of dysarthria, but for individuals with MS, the most often impacted areas are speed, strength, range of motion and accuracy of speech movements. Perceptually, your voice may sound weak, you may have reduced vocal volume, reduced breath support, reduced endurance and fatigue when communicating, reduced inflection in your voice and/or slurring of speech sounds and syllables.
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    The body of research investigating physical and sensory disorders in individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS) is immense, while cognitive-communication deficits associated with MS have received little attention. The lack of research for communication disorders and MS is shocking, given that between 45% and 65% of individuals living with MS experience difficulties with memory, attention, distractibility, problem-solving, word-finding and other cognitive functions as symptoms of the disease.

    In addition, a variety of speech and voice disorders have been identified in individuals with MS. A research questionnaire investigating speech and communication skills associated with MS indicates that approximately 45% of respondents reported changes in speech clarity, while 33% reported impairments of voice and swallowing skills. Despite these overwhelming figures, only a small number of people with MS (2%) are appropriately referred for treatment. Understanding the different types of cognitive-communication, speech and voice difficulties associated with MS is the first step towards managing these symptoms effectively.
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    Similar to the physical fatigue many individuals living with multiple sclerosis (MS) experience, cognitive fatigue can also be present. Research shows that persons with MS can easily experience fatigue when engaging in mentally challenging work and tasks that require focused attention. Once fatigued, individuals with MS tend to make errors in their written and verbal communication skills.
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    Aphasia, or the loss of words, until recently was not considered a clinical manifestation of multiple sclerosis (MS) because MS primarily affects the white matter of the brain and spinal cord, while aphasia is typically associated with diseases of the grey matter. However, a recent multi-center study investigating the prevalence of aphasia in MS found that nearly 40% of individuals with MS demonstrate markedly reduced word-finding skills. Aphasic disorders may be observed in two different situations in MS. The most common situation is experiencing difficulty generating the names of people, places and things over the disease course, while the second situation is experiencing acute aphasia during or following an exacerbation.
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    Talk to the neurologist who is treating your multiple sclerosis (MS) and let them know if you are having migraines. This advice is crucial because sometimes neurologists, nurse practitioners and medical assistants may become focused on your immunological status, relapses, walking and multitude of other symptoms associated with MS.

    In one research trial, researchers looked at how often different practitioners were diagnosing people with MS with migraines. At the first analysis, there were surprisingly fewer people with MS who had migraines than in the rest of the population. When the researchers looked more carefully, however, they found that it made a difference who was seeing the people with MS. The MS specialist reported just as many people with MS had migraines as people without MS, but the general neurologist and nurse practitioner in this study only had two people with migraines (out of over 200 people with MS)! It seems unlikely that completely different types of people with MS were going to see these different practitioners. Instead, it seems that when your healthcare practitioner is less comfortable with your MS, then they may not take the extra steps to deal with all of your symptoms and other neurological conditions impacting your life.

    The job of medical educators is to help improve the knowledge of doctors and other health care practitioners about both MS and migraine, but your help is needed also. Go to your office visits with a list of issues that are troubling you -- and if migraines are on that list, then please make sure to bring the topic up.
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    For most people who have multiple sclerosis (MS) and migraines, the migraines came first and are not caused by the MS itself. Some people, however, had no history of migraines prior to their first MS symptoms. In fact, in some cases, a bad headache led to a first brain MRI (magnetic resonance image) which eventually led to a MS diagnosis. Sometimes, however, migraine may be a symptom of MS or even a sign of a MS relapse.

    MS is generally thought to be an autoimmune disease with an inflammatory attack on the myelin covering the nerves and the axons themselves within the central nervous system (CNS). Migraines are believed to be triggered in a part of the CNS called the brain stem. After the spinal cord and optic nerves, the brainstem is one of the three most common sites for the demyelination seen in MS. This means that a MS lesion in the periaqueductal grey matter may cause a migraine.

    MS lesions in the optic nerve, which is called optic neuritis, may be very painful and can make someone feel like they are having the explosive eye pain seen in some migraines. In reality this is a MS lesion causing swelling of the optic nerve (the nerve that transmits signals from the eye), which causes this searing pain. People with MS may also have migraines due to various medications they are taking, such as migraines triggered by MS disease-modifying medications, more specifically the beta interferons and fingolimod. While people without a migraine history who take beta interferons may develop headaches as a potential side effect (which also usually improves as the medication is brought up slowly and your body gets used to it), it seems that only people with a personal or family history of migraines actually develop migraines triggered by the MS medications. So, just as many people with migraines have a food or weather trigger for their migraines, MS medications may sometimes be triggers for migraines, as well.
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    ACharles Smith, MD, Neurology, answered on behalf of Scripps Health
    How does multiple sclerosis cause cognitive impairment?
    In this video I discuss how In multiple sclerosis patients, brain lesions cause cognitive impairment, which can be subtle early in the disease. More obvious cognitive impairment is a sign of progressive MS.
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    Neuropathic pain is the most common pain syndrome associated with multiple sclerosis (MS). It is a constant, symmetric or asymmetric burning sensation, usually affecting the limbs. It more commonly affects the legs than arms.
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    Lymphedema is usually painless. For people with multiple sclerosis (MS), there may be a tight feeling in the skin of the feet and ankles, and it may thicken and become fibrous. Swelling may make it difficult to wear shoes and further hinder mobility, interfering with daily activities. Rising summertime temperatures may exacerbate the problem since blood vessels and lymph channels dilate more in the heat.