MS symptoms are varied and can change over time
SUMMARY: We present the 14 most common symptoms of MS & causes. People with these symptoms should consult a doctor because MS cannot be diagnosed from symptoms alone.
Multiple Sclerosis [MS] symptoms are unpredictable – two different people may experience different symptoms and each patient’s symptoms can change over time. The number of symptoms a person experiences can vary, too, with one patient having only a few while another patient has many.
Please review this list below to learn about the most common MS symptoms. Please note that symptoms alone are not enough to determine if you or a loved one has MS. Doctors use medical history, lab tests, and neurological examinations to confirm the diagnosis.
The most common symptoms of MS
- Numbness or tingling
Numbness in the arms and legs, face, or body is a common first symptom of people who are eventually diagnosed with MS.
- Vision problems
Blurred vision, problems seeing colors, poor contrast, or pain when moving an eye are also common first symptoms of MS.
Clinical depression is one of the most common MS symptoms and is more common in people with MS than in other disabling conditions.
- Walking difficulties
Walking problems can occur due to weakness, balance issues, fatigue, and spasticity.
Fatigue is a common symptom, occurring in 80% of MS patients. It can be severe, interfering with functioning at work and home.
Caused by nerve damage or muscle dis-use.
Stiff muscles and involuntary muscle spasms; most common in the legs but can also occur in the arms.
- Bladder problems
At least 80% of people with MS have bladder dysfunction.
- Sexual problems
Damage to the central nervous system and other factors contribute to this common symptom of MS.
- Dizziness and vertigo
MS can cause people to feel lightheaded, off balance, or experience spinning sensations.
- Bowel problems
Loss of control of the bowels and constipation are both concerns to people with MS.
- Emotional changes
In addition to depression, mood swings, uncontrollable laughing or crying episodes, and irritability can occur both due to the stress of living with the illness as well as due to immune and neurological changes.
- Cognitive changes
More than 50% of people with MS have changes to brain functioning, including learning and remembering new information, problem solving, and ability to focus or process new information.
Pain syndromes occur with frequency for people with MS; half of MS patients experience chronic pain.
FROM THE HHN EDITORS: March is Multiple Sclerosis Education Month. Please take this opportunity to review the most common MS symptoms. If you or a loved one are experiencing these symptoms, please see your doctor promptly for evaluation. Effective symptom management is possible with medication and rehabilitation.
Source: The National Multiple Sclerosis Society, an organization with extensive information and resources for patients and their families.