Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

MS symptoms range from mild to severe. It depends on what part of the brain, spine, or nerves in the eyes have been affected. Problems may last for a few days or be lasting. They may also get better and then come back months to years after they start. Some people may have problems that get better and then have lasting harm that is found during an exam.
Central Nervous System
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The most common problems are:
  • Numbness or tingling in the legs, arms, or face
  • Problems seeing in one or both eyes:
    • Blurred eyesight
    • Seeing double
    • Loss of sight
    • Changes in how you see colors
    • Eye pain
  • Feeling tired
  • Lightheadedness
  • Muscle stiffness and spasms
  • Muscle weakness
  • Poor coordination or falling
  • Trouble walking or keeping your balance
  • Not being able to move one or more limbs
  • Bladder problems:
    • Urgency
    • Hesitancy
    • Incomplete emptying
    • Incontinence
  • Constipation or, less commonly, incontinence
  • Sexual problems
  • Forgetting things, confusion
  • Problems with focus or solving problems
  • Depression
Less common symptoms are:
  • Slurred speech
  • Problems swallowing
  • Mental health problems
  • An overly excited mood or emotions that don't match a situation
  • Headache
  • Seizures
  • Tremor
  • Breathing problems
  • Itching
Things that may trigger or worsen symptoms are:
  • Internal or external heat:
    • Hot weather
    • Hot baths or showers
    • Fever
  • Too much exercise or movement
  • Infection

References

Minden SL, Feinstein A, et al. Evidence-based guideline: assessment and management of psychiatric disorders in individuals with MS: report of the Guideline Development Subcommittee of the American Academy of Neurology. Neurology. 2014 Jan 14;82(2):174-181.
Multiple sclerosis (MS). EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:  http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116285/Multiple-sclerosis-MS . Updated March 4, 2016. Accessed October 6, 2016.
NINDS multiple sclerosis information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/multiple%5Fsclerosis/multiple%5Fsclerosis.htm. Updated November 19, 2015. Accessed September 13, 2016.
What is MS? National Multiple Sclerosis Society website. Available at: http://www.nationalmssociety.org/What-is-MS. Accessed September 13, 2016.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Rimas Lukas, MD
  • Review Date: 09/2018