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Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

Symptoms can range from mild to severe depending on what part of the brain, spinal cord, or optic nerves have been affected. Symptoms may last for a few days or be permanent. They may also improve and then come back months to years after they have initially occurred. In some cases, even though the initial symptoms improve, you may have permanent changes that your doctor is able to detect during your exam.

Central Nervous System

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The most common symptoms of MS include:

  • Numbness or tingling in the legs, arms, face, or extremities
  • Impaired vision in one or both eyes, including:
    • Blurred vision
    • Double vision
    • Loss of vision
    • Changes in color perception
    • Pain around the affected eye, pain with eye movement
  • Fatigue
  • Lightheadedness
  • Muscle stiffness and spasms
  • Muscle weakness
  • Poor coordination or falling
  • Trouble walking or maintaining balance
  • Paralysis in one or more limbs
  • Bladder problems including:
    • Urgency
    • Hesitancy
    • Incomplete emptying
    • Incontinence
  • Constipation or, less commonly, incontinence
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Forgetfulness, memory loss, or confusion
  • Trouble concentrating or solving problems
  • Depression

Less common symptoms include:

  • Slurred speech
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Psychiatric disorders
  • Euphoria or inappropriate emotional responses
  • Headache
  • Seizures
  • Tremor
  • Breathing problems
  • Itching

Factors that may trigger or worsen symptoms include:

  • Internal or external heat, including:
    • Hot weather
    • Hot baths or showers
    • Fever
  • Overexertion
  • Infection
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References:

Multiple sclerosis (MS). EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.... Updated March 4, 2016. Accessed October 6, 2016.
NINDS multiple sclerosis information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated November 19, 2015. Accessed September 13, 2016.
What is MS? National Multiple Sclerosis Society website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed September 13, 2016.
Last reviewed September 2016 by Rimas Lukas, MD
Last Updated: 9/17/2014

 

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This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

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