Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms

Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms

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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.
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    AKulreet Chaudhary, MD, Neurology, answered
    Is poor digestion a common complaint among MS patients?

    Poor digestion is one of the most common multiple sclerosis symptoms. In this WisePatient video, integrative neurologist Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary explains the link between digestive issues and chronic diseases like MS.


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    AJames Bowen, MD, Neurology, answered on behalf of Swedish
    Multiple sclerosis (MS) symptoms are caused by loss of myelin, axons and nerve cells.

    The brain in multiple sclerosis:
    • The immune system attacks the myelin covering the axons of nerve cells.
    • It destroys patches or sections of myelin, leaving behind bare axons.
    Nerve signals fail to reach the intended target:
    • A nerve signal begins at the cell body of the nerve cell.
    • It moves down the axon but can't jump an area of myelin damage.
    • Unable to jump across the section of bare axon, the signal is blocked.
    • The signal fails to reach its intended target, resulting in symptoms.
    MS symptoms depend on the affected nerve pathway:
    • For the nerve-sending signals from the eye to the brain, vision may be affected.
    • A nerve sending signals for motor function may result in weakness.
    Myelin, axons and nerve cells are damaged in MS:
    • Damage is done directly to the axons by the immune attack on the myelin.
    • The axon may be unable to survive if enough myelin is lost.
    • Loss of axons leaves fewer of them to carry the signal to the intended targets.
    • It is unknown whether immune attacks with myelin damage are the only cause of loss of the nerve cell body.
    • Nerve cells are eventually lost in MS.
    • Symptoms reflect damage/loss of the nerve pathway (vision, motor, etc.).
    Lost cells in a nerve pathway cause MS symptoms:
    • An affected nerve pathway serves a specific function (vision, motor, etc.).
    • Lost nerve cells decrease the number of nerve cells available to carry a signal.
    • There is a reduced likelihood that signals in an injured nerve pathway will get through.
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    Pain is often overlooked in multiple sclerosis (MS) -- an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system where communication between the brain and other parts of the body is disrupted due to a break down in the insulating myelin that surrounds a person's nerves.

    Several studies have suggested that between 43-80 percent of people with MS experience pain, which significantly impacts quality of life and functioning in people with MS. People in the advanced stages of MS can have pain related to spasticity, infection, pressure sores, headache, muscle contractures, as well as muscle and bone pain that can come from their limited ability to move.

    Continued research is needed on effective pain management for people with MS, but working with your healthcare practitioner can be critical to quality of life.
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    Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system where communication between the brain and other parts of the body is disrupted due to a break down in the insulating myelin that surrounds a person's nerves. People with MS will often have difficulty in controlling the strength and precision of movements, so that holding things can become a problem, and balance and coordination may be impaired. They also experience numbness, tingling, sensitivity to heat or cold.

    Approximately 85 percent of people with MS report some spasticity, which leads to increased stiffness or tightness in their muscles adversely affecting movement. They may or may not experience other components of abnormal muscle tone, such as spasms. Complications from spasticity include pain, joint contractures, frozen joints, impaired bladder or bowel function, skin ulceration, and abnormal postures and falls.
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    Myokymia is an annoying twitching or fluttering of the eyelid muscles. It may come and go in many people with multiple sclerosis (MS). Vision itself is not actually affected. Myokymia can be seen in some people without MS as well. Stress, sleep deprivation, and caffeine may make it act up in some.
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    Constipation is common in multiple sclerosis (MS). One of your medications could also be to blame. Talk with your pharmacist to see if constipation is a side effect for any of the drugs you are taking and about any alternative medications.

    It also is important to gently accustom your body to a healthy bowel routine. Drink at least eight glasses of water every day. Eat high fiber foods and avoid foods that contain a lot of fat. Exercise is also helpful; check with your doctor first to see what level of activity they recommend.

    If those methods fail to help, you may need to consult a gastroenterologist, a doctor who specializes in problems of the stomach and intestine, among other areas.
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    One of the rare but not unheard of symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS) is pruritis (itching), which can be included in the category of sensory abnormalities known as "dysesthesias." Because this type of itching is neurologically based, it does not respond to topical treatments like those used in allergic reactions. Anti-epileptic medications (gabapentin, carbamazepine, and phenytoin) are sometimes helpful in treating this problem.