Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis

The symptoms of MS are erratic. They may be mild or severe, of long duration or short. They may appear in various combinations, depending on the area of the nervous system affected.

The following are the most common symptoms of MS. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

  • Initial symptoms of MS:

    The following are often initial symptoms of MS:

    • blurred or double vision
    • red-green color distortion
    • pain and loss of vision due to optic neuritis, an inflammation of the optic nerve
    • difficulty walking
    • paresthesia - abnormal sensation, or pain, such as numbness, prickling, or "pins and needles."

  • Other symptoms of multiple sclerosis:
    Throughout the course of the illness, an individual may experience any/all of the following symptoms, to a varying degree:

    • muscle weakness in the extremities
    • difficulty with coordination (impaired walking or standing may result; partial or complete paralysis is possible)
    • spasticity - the involuntary increased tone of muscles leading to stiffness and spasms.
    • fatigue (this may be triggered by physical activity, but may subside with rest; constant, persistent fatigue is possible)
    • loss of sensation
    • speech impediments
    • tremor
    • dizziness
    • hearing loss
    • bowel and bladder disturbances
    • depression
    • changes in sexual function

Approximately 50 percent of all people with MS experience cognitive impairments related to their disease. The effects of these impairments may be mild, often detectable only after comprehensive testing, and may include difficulty with any/all of the following:

    • concentration
    • attention
    • memory
    • poor judgment

Symptom categories of MS:

Primary Symptoms

A direct result of demyelination,
the destruction of myelin (the fatty sheath that surrounds and insulates nerve fibers in the central nervous system) may result in the following:

  • weakness
  • numbness
  • tremor
  • loss of vision
  • pain
  • paralysis
  • loss of balance
  • bladder and bowel dysfunction
  • Secondary Symptoms

    Complications that arise as a result
    of the primary symptoms, for example:

  • paralysis can lead to bedsores
  • bladder dysfunction may cause repeated urinary tract infections
  • inactivity can result in weakness,
    poor postural alignment and trunk control, muscle imbalances, decreased bone density, and/or shallow, inefficient breathing
  • Tertiary Symptoms

    The social, vocational, and psychological complications of
    the primary and secondary
    symptoms, for example:

  • a person who becomes unable to walk or drive may lose his/her livelihood
  • strain of dealing with a chronic neurological illness may disrupt personal relationships
  • depression is often seen among people with MS
  • The symptoms of MS may resemble other medical conditions or problems. Always consult your physician for a diagnosis.