13 Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis

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Since every multiple sclerosis (MS) patient is believed to be affected differently, the common symptoms of MS can vary widely in their severity and nature.

The most common symptoms of multiple sclerosis include:

1. Fatigue

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Fatigue, an intense feeling of tiredness often accompanied by a loss of the urge and ability to work or do daily tasks. This is a major reason for the long-term employment difficulties reported by people with MS. Fatigue is a common multiple sclerosis symptom, found in 80% of all cases.

According to a study fatigue, the most commonly reported symptom in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), is associated with disease comorbidities such as depression, irritable bowel syndrome, migraine, and anxiety.

2. Numbness and tingling of the face, body, arms, and legs


Numbness is often an early MS symptom, frequently reported prior to an MS diagnosis. Facial muscle twitching and trigeminal neuralgia have also been reported in patients.

Learn more about how yoga and aquatic exercise are seen to markedly ease some MS-related symptoms.

3. Muscle spasms


Muscle spasms, causing stiffness in muscles of the limbs and most involuntary muscles.

More than 500,000 Americans suffer from spasticity; when it occurs in the upper arm, it can cause muscle stiffness, spasms, flexing, and twitching.

4. Walking difficulties


Walking difficulties are a result of fatigue, spasticity (muscle tightness and resistance to movement), loss of the sense of balance, and a deficit in sensory nerve impulses.

Recently, Adamas reported positive results in a study of a drug to treat MS patients with walking difficulties.

5. Bladder problems


Bladder problems are also found in almost 80% of MS patients. Bladder dysfunction in MS can range from frequent urination to incontinence, an inability to fully empty the bladder, and urinary infections.

Learn more about the at-home study of bacteria’s benefits on bladder health in MS patients. 

6. Lightheadedness


Lightheadedness, dizziness, and vertigo.

One of the teams that participated in the 10th anniversary of the MS Melbourne Cycle, an annual cycling challenge to raise money for MS Australia, built a bicycle that as closely as possible replicates the physical difficulties and discomforts that typify multiple sclerosis (MS).

7. Bowel problems.


Constipation is the most common symptom here and bladder incontinence, while less common, is associated with constipation.

A link appears to exist between multiple sclerosis (MS) and unusual changes in the bacterial composition of the gut, according to researchers.

8. Pain


Pain, either neuropathic or musculoskeletal, has been reported by patients. One study found 50% to 55% of patients had either “clinically significant” chronic or occasional pain as a result of the disease.

But can cannabinoid chewing gum treat multiple sclerosis pain and spasticity?

9. Vision problems


Vision problems can also be an early disease symptom, and include blurred vision, double vision, temporary loss of vision, eye pain (especially when moving the eye), or color blindness. (Optical neuritis, due to damage to the optic nerve, is a complication of MS.)

Optic Neuritis in MS So Difficult To See

10. Cognitive changes


Cognitive changes, such as problems with thinking or reasoning, learning, problem-solving, and planning are among the range of high-level brain functions affected by the disease.

Learn more about how poor physical and cognitive skills in MS patients may be linked to cerebral microbleeds.

11. Sexual problems


Sexual problems, including erectile dysfunction in men.

Learn more about how sexual function for MS and other patients with neurological disorders can improve.

12. Emotional changes


Emotional changes, including depression, anxiety, and mood swings.

But can emotional health influence MS treatment outcomes?

13. Less common symptoms


Some of the less common symptoms of MS include slurred or slow speechtremors (uncontrolled shaking), dysphagia (swallowing problems), uncontrolled itching (sensations of being stabbed or pricked by needles), hearing loss, and headache.

Watch a National MS Society video featuring a discussion with Stephen Krieger, MD, who talks about less common symptoms of multiple sclerosis.

Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

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