Symptoms of MS
Multiple sclerosis (MS) symptoms can vary widely between patients. In the early stages of the condition, symptoms are generally mild and come and go, but as the condition progresses they tend to become worse and last longer.
MS can affect any part of the CNS, damaging the nerves in that area. This damage to the nerves can affect different parts of the body, which explains why MS can have such a wide range of symptoms.
Typical symptoms of multiple sclerosis include:
- Blurred vision or pain behind the eye. Known as optic neuritis, this results from inflammation of the optic nerve.
- Muscle weakness in arms and legs, due to damage to the neurons controlling muscle movement. Patients may need assistance with walking such as a cane or wheelchair.
- Altered sense of touch, numbness or tingling.
- Pain, e.g. burning pain in arms and legs, pain in the face (trigeminal neuralgia).
- Spasticity, i.e. stiffness or tightness usually in the arms and legs which can be painful.
- Difficulties with the bladder, unable to control the urge to urinate or unable to completely empty the bladder.
- Difficulties with the bowels, e.g. constipation or incontinence.
- Difficulties having sex, e.g. erectile dysfunction or lack of sex drive.
- Difficulties with balance and co-ordination, e.g. loss of balance when walking or difficulty with writing.
- Fatigue/extreme tiredness.
- Cognitive problems, e.g. loss of memory, difficulty concentrating.
Depression, due to changes in the brain resulting from MS or as a reaction to having MS and coping with the symptoms.
The symptoms associated with an attack or relapse of MS can be treated with corticosteroids, as discussed in Treating a relapses. Other treatments are also available for specific symptoms and should be discussed with a healthcare provider.