Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms

What are symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS)?

A Answers (9)

  • Multiple sclerosis leaves your nerves at risk when their protective layer of fatty myelin is damaged. This can happen anywhere throughout the nervous system, which means the symptoms will vary depending on where your system is damaged. Common symptoms include tiredness; problems with coordination or balance; vision problems; cognitive issues; numbness, prickling or dizziness, altered mood; or bladder, bowel or sexual dysfunction. Less common symptoms associated with more severe cases could include itching, headaches, respiratory issues, trouble swallowing, shakiness, seizures, paralysis or the loss of speech or hearing.

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  • AHealthwise answered

    The symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS) vary from person to person depending on which parts of the brain or spinal cord (central nervous system) are damaged. The loss of myelin and scarring caused by MS can affect any part of the central nervous system. Myelin is the insulating coating around a nerve.

    Symptoms may come and go or become more or less severe from day to day or, in rare cases, from hour to hour. Symptoms may become worse with increased body temperature or after a viral infection.

    Early symptoms: Common early symptoms of MS include:

    • Muscle or motor symptoms, such as weakness, leg dragging, stiffness, a tendency to drop things, a feeling of heaviness, clumsiness or a lack of coordination (ataxia).
    • Visual symptoms, such as blurred, foggy or hazy vision, eyeball pain (especially when you move your eyes), blindness or double vision. Optic neuritis—sudden loss of vision that is often painful—is a fairly common first symptom. It occurs in up to 25 out of 100 people who have MS.
    • Sensory symptoms, such as tingling, a pins-and-needles sensation, numbness, a band of tightness around the trunk or legs or electrical sensations moving down the back and legs.

    Advanced symptoms: As MS progresses, symptoms may become more severe and may include:

    • Worse muscle problems, and stiff, mechanical movements (spasticity) or uncontrollable shaking (tremor). These problems may make walking difficult. A wheelchair may be needed some or all of the time.
    • Pain and other sensory symptoms.
    • Bladder symptoms, such as an inability to hold urine (urinary incontinence) or to completely empty the bladder, or a loss of bladder sensation.
    • Constipation and other bowel disorders.
    • Male erectile dysfunction (impotence) and female sexual dysfunction.
    • Cognitive and emotional problems. These are common in people who have had MS for some time.
    • Feeling very tired (fatigue). This can be worse if symptoms such as pain, spasticity, bladder problems, anxiety or depression make it hard to sleep.

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  • AMichael T. Murray, ND, Naturopathic Medicine, answered

    Symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS) include sudden transient motor and sensory disturbances, such as blurred vision, dizziness, muscle weakness, and tingling sensations. Generally, only one or two symptoms present initially. As the disease progresses, the initial symptoms worsen and other symptoms can develop. The diagnosis is confirmed by the detection of evidence of demyelination on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

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  • Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease of the central nervous system (CNS), which includes the brain and the spinal cord. Everyone who is diagnosed with MS experiences the disease in their own way. Symptoms vary from person to person and even from day to day in each individual. The most common symptoms of MS include:
    • Fatigue.
    • Numbness or tingling, particularly in the extremities.
    • Visual loss or double vision.
    • Difficulty with mobility due to muscle weakness or stiffness.
    • Bladder and bowel problems.
    • Impaired balance and coordination.
    • Nerve pain.
    • Difficulty speaking and swallowing.
    • Cognitive and emotional changes.
  • ADarshan Shah, MD, Neurology, answered on behalf of NorthShore University HealthSystem
    Possible symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis include:
    1.  Loss of vision or double vision
    2.  Muscle weakness or spasms
    3.  Numbness or tingling of an arm or leg or one half of the body
    4.  Electrical shock like sensations
    5.  Unsteadiness when walking
    6.  Loss of urinary control
    7.  Sexual Dysfunction
    8.  Fatigue
    9.  Difficulty concentrating
    10.  Depression
  • The hallmark symptoms of multiple sclerosis are unpredictable periods of exacerbation, remission, and progression. The most common early symptoms include sensory abnormalities, such as tingling, numbness, itching, tightness, burning, shooting pain in the back and limbs on neck flexion (called Lhermitte's sign), difficulty walking, blurred or double vision, red-green color distortion, eye pain, and vision loss.

    Initial symptoms of MS may be brief and mild. The first serious attack usually lasts weeks or months and occurs between the ages of 20-40. Symptoms of the disease vary, depending on where the damage occurs, and range from minor physical annoyances to major disabilities. Other common symptoms include: balance and equilibrium abnormalities, such as dizziness, uncoordinated movements, and tremor; bladder and bowel dysfunction, such as urgency, incontinence (inability to control urine or fecal flow), nocturia, constipation; behavioral changes, such as mood swings or depression); cognitive dysfunction, such as impaired memory, reasoning, and concentration; facial numbness; and motor abnormalities, such as muscle weakness, spasticity, spasm; sexual dysfunction, including erectile dysfunction and sexual inactivity; hearing loss; and vision abnormalities, such as eye pain, vision loss in one eye, double vision (diplopia), and involuntary eye movement (nystagmus).

    Muscle weakness can involve the extremities (arms and legs) on one side of the body (called hemiparesis), both legs (called paraparesis), or all four extremities (called quadraparesis). Muscles in the affected area may tighten (called spasticity) and contract spontaneously (called spasm or myoclonus).

    Many people with MS experience fatigue and need to rest and sleep during the day in order to continue their activities. The degree of fatigue may not be related to the severity of other symptoms.

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    • AMehmet Oz, MD, Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease), answered
      Because we depend on our nervous system for many things, having our nervous system malfunction because of multiple sclerosis (MS) can lead to a wide array of symptoms, which include:
      • Numbness or weakness in one or more of your limbs
      • Loss of vision
      • Having double vision or blurry vision
      • Feeling tingling or pain in one or more parts of your body
      • Feeling electric-shock sensations when you move your head in certain ways
      • Feeling unsteady or losing coordination while walking or standing
      • Having stiff muscles or muscle spasms
      • Extreme fatigue or dizziness
      These symptoms come and go and tend to be triggered by stress or an increase in body temperature. Because people with MS experience so many different types of symptoms, it makes it very hard to diagnose. Doctors may mistake the symptoms of MS for other diseases, and because there is no definitive test for MS, it very hard to confirm that someone who may present with MS symptoms actually has MS.

      Sometimes, the symptoms become very serious. Some may experience paralysis in the legs. Some may become incontinent, while others experience depression or difficulty concentrating. Some are also at higher risk of epilepsy.

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    • ADonna Hill Howes, RN, Family Medicine, answered
      The initial symptom of MS is often blurred or double vision, red-green color distortion, or even blindness in one eye. Most MS patients experience muscle weakness in their extremities and difficulty with coordination and balance. These symptoms may be severe enough to impair walking or even standing. In the worst cases, MS can produce partial or complete paralysis. Most people with MS also exhibit paresthesias, transitory abnormal sensory feelings such as numbness, prickling, or "pins and needles" sensations. Some may also experience pain. Speech impediments, tremors, and dizziness are other frequent complaints. Occasionally, people with MS have hearing loss. Approximately half of all people with MS experience cognitive impairments such as difficulties with concentration, attention, memory, and poor judgment, but such symptoms are usually mild and are frequently overlooked. Depression is another common feature of MS.
    • AFred Lublin, MD, Neurology, answered on behalf of The Mount Sinai Health System

      Symptoms of multiple sclerosis may be mild or severe and can occur in varying degrees of intensity. Relapses or the exacerbation of symptoms can last for days or weeks and then resolve. Over time, the symptoms of multiple sclerosis can also become chronic and longstanding.

      The initial symptom of multiple sclerosis is often blurred or double vision, loss of color vision, or even blindness in one eye. Individuals with multiple sclerosis may experience muscle weakness in their extremities and difficulty with coordination and balance. Some might experience numbness or "pins and needles." Others may have pain or loss of feeling. Heat may cause a temporary worsening of many symptoms.

      Multiple sclerosis can cause cognitive impairments such as difficulties with concentration, memory, and judgment. Such impairments are usually mild and rarely disabling. Intellectual and language abilities are generally spared.

      Bladder problems or urinary dysfunction are common with multiple sclerosis, although they may not affect everyone with the disease. For those who do experience urinary problems, symptoms vary from person to person and must be dealt with on an individual basis. Symptoms are often manageable, so be sure to tell your doctor as soon as you experience any problems.

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