Specific Signs of MS
Spasticity and Fatigue
Spasticity is the involuntary increased tone of muscles leading to stiffness and spasms. Fatigue may be triggered by physical exertion. It can improve with rest, or it may take the form of a constant and persistent tiredness.
Impaired Sensitivity to Pain, Temperature, and Touch
Most people with symptoms of MS also experience paresthesias, which are brief, abnormal sensory feelings, such as numbness, prickling, or "pins and needles" sensations. Loss of sensation sometimes occurs as well. Some people may also experience pain, but this is uncommon.
Speech impediments, tremors, and dizziness are other frequent MS symptoms. Occasionally, people with MS also experience hearing loss.
Difficulty Thinking Clearly
Approximately half of all people with MS have cognitive symptoms, such as difficulties with concentration, attention, memory, and poor judgment. However, such MS symptoms are usually mild and are frequently overlooked. In fact, these symptoms are often only detected with thorough testing.
People with multiple sclerosis may be unaware of their mental difficulties. It is often a family member or friend who first notices a problem. Such impairments are usually mild, rarely disabling, and intellectual and language abilities are generally spared.
Cognitive symptoms occur when lesions (also called plaques) develop in the brain areas responsible for processing information. These problems tend to become more apparent as the information to be processed becomes more complex. Fatigue may also add to thinking difficulties.
Scientists do not yet know whether these thinking difficulties are due to problems with receiving information (acquisition), recalling it from the memory (retrieval), or a combination of both.
Types of memory problems can differ, depending on a person's specific pattern of MS (relapsing-remitting, primary-progressive, etc.), but there does not appear to be any direct connection between how long the person has had the disease and how severe his or her cognitive problems are.