Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms


Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks and destroys myelin, a fatty substance that covers nerve fibers and that is critical for their electric function.

The loss of myelin interferes with the ability of nerve cells to send electrical signals between the brain, spinal cord, and other regions of the body, and, in turn, the loss of effective nerve communication leads to disease symptoms.


MS symptoms Percentage of patients

who experience the symptom

Movement problems ~87%
Fatigue 80%
Chronic pain 55%
Vision problems 35%

MS Relapse | Multiple Sclerosis News Today | Cartoon woman kneeling and petting a happy dog Flare Ups in MS | Multiple Sclerosis News Today | Cartoon man reading in chair with stack of books

Does MS Come and Go?

MS flare-ups, also called relapses or exacerbations, are the result of inflammatory attacks on the nervous system and represent events when one or more symptoms appear or get substantially worse. To constitute a relapse, these symptoms must last for at least a day and may continue for weeks or months.

They are characteristic in relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS), which is marked by recurrent relapses followed by partial or complete recovery (remission). Approximately 85% of all MS patients are initially diagnosed with RRMS. The remaining 15% have a disease type called primary progressive MS (PPMS) and undergo a gradual clinical decline with no remission periods.

MS symptoms in men MS symptoms in women
More likely to have PPMS More likely to have RRMS
May experience greater brain atrophy May develop more lesions or scar tissue
Higher incidence of T1 lesions Higher incidence of T2 lesions
May experience more cognitive issues May develop more eye symptoms

Type of MS Abbreviation Characteristics % of Patients Treatment
Clinically isolated syndrome CIS A first episode of neurological symptoms not yet diagnosed as MS May prevent progression into MS
Relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis RRMS Periods of relapse and worsening symptoms followed by recovery ~85% of new patients May help prevent progression into SPMS
Secondary progressive multiple sclerosis SPMS Following RRMS, symptoms gradually worsen and do not recover after relapse ~50% of RRMS patients progress within 20 years May help treat and slow progression of symptoms
Primary progressive multiple sclerosis PPMS From the onset of MS, symptoms gradually worsen and do not recover after relapse ~15% of new patients May help treat and slow progression of symptoms

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 other 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.