multiple sclerosis symptoms

An autoimmune disease, multiple sclerosis (MS) results when the body’s immune system starts to attack and destroy myelin, the protecting coating on nerve fibers in the brain and/or spinal cord of the central nervous system. Attacks on the myelin sheath cause it to become inflamed in small patches (called plaques or lesions), and the inflammation disrupts messages traveling along the nerves, slowing and even blocking them. This loss of effective nerve communication leads to disease symptoms.

While a number of symptoms are common to MS patients, their severity and nature can vary widely.  Each MS patient is believed to be affected differently.

The most common symptoms of multiple sclerosis include:

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.

Numbness and tingling of the face, body, arms and legs.  Numbness is often an early MS symptom, often reported prior to an MS diagnosis. Facial muscle twitching and trigeminal neuralgia have also been reported in patients.

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

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.

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

Lightheadedness, dizziness, and vertigo.

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

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.

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.)

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.

Sexual problems, including erectile dysfunction in men.

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

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

Multiple sclerosis is a lifelong condition, but it is possible in most cases to address symptoms with treatments that range from medications to physical therapy or assisted therapy. Again, disease symptoms and their severity vary widely among people diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

Read more about multiple sclerosis diagnosis.

Note: 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.


  1. John Kerry says:

    Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease in which the protective myelin sheath of the nerves is damaged, affecting the transmission of messages to and from brain and spinal cord. This is a progressive and debilitating disease that results in nerve deterioration which is, unfortunately, an irreversible process. In this disease, the body’s own immune system attacks the nerves and affects a number of functions like coordination, vision and balance. This is one of the most common causes of neurological disability and it starts during middle ages. The actual cause of the disease is not known yet.
    As multiple sclerosis affects nerves, the symptoms may occur in different parts of the body. The symptoms usually begin in between the ages of 20-years-old and 40-years-old during which time it is mild and often remain unnoticed. The symptoms depend on the types of nerves that are affected and also on the amount of damage caused. The type of symptoms may vary from one person to another.

      • T Rico says:

        Meclizine aka Dramamine 25mg 2-3 times daily is prescribed for my chronic severe vertigo. I also take hydrochlorithizide 25mg to remove excess salt from my body. I have been to three different Drs all agree on these meds. I also take a Valium 5mg at night.
        Please see a dr if you dizziness becomes bad, severe or scary. Vertigo is a symptom of MS.
        Please take care. Hope you feel better.

  2. Elena Wright says:

    I have more of these symptoms than I would like. I don’t know if I should try to talk to a doctor, or wait.

  3. Reinaldo Colón says:

    I was diagnosed in 1986 back then I was in college studying electrelectrical engineering. Finally graduated in 1989. At this time I was walking like anybody else. After using a cane, then a Walker I use a wheel chair to work. At home I’m using a Walker in my home first and second floor. I have a lifter to go from first to second floor. Now I’m married with 3 kids. As my MS progressed today I’m working 9 hours a day. Using Ampyra and Tecfidera for many years. At night an in the morning I’m having tremors for which my doctor prescribed Tizanidine 2 caps at bed time.

  4. Donna says:

    Hi guys don’t know if you can help in anyway .i have been getting extreme pins and needles in my hands and feet and numbness too and twitching a lot and it’s been going on for I’d say nearly hitting 2 years go to the doctors and just gives me pain relief getting really frustrated .any feedback would be appreciated thank

  5. Crystal Johnson says:

    I was hit in my head, millimeters from my right eye, with a rock in a boys hand! He tried to kill me after I beat up he and his cousin. I am a female and we were 9 years old. I am an only child and had to protect myself. I did not get any medical treatment. I lost my vision and was diagnosed with MS in 2008.
    I never related the two now!
    It makes so much sense. I recall reading that it could be something that happened to you as a child!
    I think I’ve just figured out why I have this Mess called MS. Can you’ll reply?


  6. Tom says:

    Im currently suffering with many of symptoms above body spasms, fatigue, joint pain, numbness/tingling in feet & hand morning & night. Ive had many tests over past 2 months blood tests , mri,ct scans, everything has came back fine. Ive had to go private currently waiting for results back from a nerve conduction test.

    Does anyone else suffer woth chronic fatigue symdrome as that is what theyve said it at moment but i feel with all other symptoms i have it just dosent add up and my health is definitely getting worse even on medication (baclofen & vertigo tablets)

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