MS Symptoms

The severity and duration of MS symptoms can vary from person to person. Some of the most common symptoms to appear early in the disease are blurred vision, color distortion, or blindness in one eye. Later signs and symptoms include fatigue, shaking, lack of coordination, and difficulty thinking clearly.

MS Signs and Symptoms: An Overview

Multiple sclerosis (MS) symptoms can be mild or severe, long-lasting or temporary, and may appear in various combinations. This all depends on the area of the nervous system that is affected. Complete or partial remission of symptoms, especially in the early stages of the disease, occurs in approximately 70 percent of people with multiple sclerosis.
 

Early Symptoms of MS

Some of the most common MS symptoms to first appear are:
 
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Trouble telling the difference between red and green
  • Blindness in one eye.
     
For some unexplained reason, visual problems tend to clear up in the later stages of MS.
 
Fifty-five percent of people with MS will have an attack of optic neuritis (inflammation of the optic nerve that causes visual problems) at some point, and it will be the first MS symptom in approximately 15 percent. Because of this, optic neuritis is thought to be an early symptom, especially if tests also reveal abnormalities in the person's spinal fluid.
 

Common MS Symptoms

Symptoms of MS can include any of the following:
 
  • Problems with vision
  • Muscle weakness
  • Spasticity (tight muscles due to increased muscle tone)
  • Fatigue
  • Impaired sensitivity to pain, temperature, and touch
  • Pain (moderate to severe -- see MS Pain)
  • Lack of coordination
  • Tremor (shaking)
  • Depression
  • Sexual problems
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Vertigo (feeling that the room is spinning)
  • Bladder problems
  • Bowel problems
  • Euphoria (extreme happiness)
  • Difficulty thinking clearly.
     
Weakness and Lack of Coordination
Most people with MS experience muscle weakness in their legs and arms, and difficulty with coordination and balance at some point during the course of the disease. These MS symptoms may be severe enough to impair walking or even standing. In the worst cases, the disease can produce partial or complete paralysis.
Written by/reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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