Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis

The symptoms of MS vary greatly from person to person. Indeed, there is no “typical set of symptoms” for MS this is because symptoms in a given individual depend upon which nerve fibres are inflamed and demyelinated (loss of protective myelin coat on neurons).

The symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis in a given person may vary, affecting different parts of the body at different times. The most common symptoms of MS are: 

Disturbances in vision

Weaknesses or deteriorating muscle strength

Altered sensations

Memory Loss


Bladder & Bowel Problems

In addition, some symptoms may occur often, while others may rarely be present. Some of the most common symptoms of MS are described below:

Disturbances in vision

Inflammation of the optic nerve (the nerve from the eye) is called optic neuritis. If this nerve becomes inflamed, you may experience partial blindness, dim or blurred vision or the loss of central vision in one or both eyes. You may also feel pain behind the eye, which increases when you move your eye. Sometimes, eye movements can also be affected if MS affects the brain stem. The most common symptom in this case is double vision and/or problems with balance and coordination. These symptoms usually improve gradually, but can return during periods of stress, elevated body temperature or fatigue (although this does not necessarily mean that your MS is active again). It is important to note that the majority of people who develop MS-related optic neuritis may actually recover very well.

Weakness or deteriorating muscle strength

Demyelination of the nerves that control the muscles can lead to muscle weakness, resulting in anything from reduced dexterity (e.g. the fingers may no longer work as well as they used to) to paralysis. Muscle weakness can occur during relapses, as well as in people who have progressive forms of MS. Gradual loss of strength occurs more frequently in the legs than in the arms, and is usually more marked on one side of the body. When this symptom strikes, it may be necessary to use a walking stick, walking frame or a wheelchair to improve mobility.

Altered sensation

MS can affect one’s sense of touch. Person may feel numbness, tingling or ‘pins and needles’. One may also experience a burning sensation, a prickly feeling or over-sensitive areas on the skin. Sensory symptoms can occur in people who have relapsing remitting MS, as well as in those with progressive forms of the disease, and can affect any part(s) of the body (i.e. from a small patch of skin to a whole limb or an even larger part of the body).

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