MS Symptoms: Signs and Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is a complex disease with a variety of symptoms. The symptoms of multiple sclerosis differ greatly from patient to patient and can depend on the speed of development of the disease in the nervous system. They usually begin and last from 1 to several days, but can sometimes even last for months. In most cases, they may develop even more slowly.

The severity of the ms symptoms ranges from mild to severe. It often happens that the initial symptoms of ms are being overlooked because of their short duration and their complete disappearance right after. When they disappear, the normal function of the patient returns, so nothing seems to be different.

Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms

Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms

Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms

When the symptoms of multiple sclerosis appear, this is called an attack. The medical term for this occurrence is exacerbation. When a person recovers from the ms symptoms, it is referred to as a remission. However, when the symptoms of ms return after a certain period of time, this is called a relapse.

The presence of these symptoms leads to a medical condition called relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. Aside from this type of ms, the other existing condition is called progressive MS. This type can further be split in primary and secondary, depending on the stage of the illness.

The diagnosis of multiple sclerosis is not simple. The reason behind this fact lies in the symptoms. Multiple sclerosis symptoms can be very similar to other neurological diseases and conditions

Early Signs of MS

If you are wondering what the symptoms of MS are, the question is quite complex and long. The early symptoms of ms can often include:

  • Vision problems: blurred vision, double vision (optic neuritis), rapid loss of vision, pain in the eye
  • Tingling in the arms and legs
  • Numbness in the arms, trunk of body, legs and face
  • Weak muscles
  • Painful muscle spasms
  • Clumsiness and balancing problems
  • Bladder control issues
  • Long-lasting dizziness

Additionally, this disease can also cause other later-occurring symptoms such as:

  • Fatigue during an attack
  • Depression and other mood changes
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Inability to multitask
  • Difficulty in planning, making decisions
  • Difficulty in finishing daily tasks

Some MS cases develop another condition that is caused by inflammation in the spinal cord. This condition is called transverse myelitis and is known to cause spinal cord function. This loss may last from hours to weeks and it usually begins with symptoms such as:

  • Lower back pain
  • Abnormal toes and feet sensation
  • Muscle weakness
  • More severe symptoms such as paralysis

This condition can also be a result of developing certain viral infections and neuroinflammatory problems, completely unrelated to the multiple sclerosis disease. When this happens, the plaques in the brain are non-existent so an MS diagnosis cannot be set.

There is also another disorder that is associated with transverse myelitis and the optic nerve inflammation. This disorder is called neuro-myelitis optica. When one is diagnosed with this disorder, they usually develop antibodies. These antibodies work against the aquaporin channel – a protein in the spinal cord. When it comes to treatment, the patients diagnosed with this disorder may respond differently than most MS patients.

Muscle Weakness, Stiffness and Spasms

The majority of people diagnosed with MS experience muscle weakness and one of the signs of multiple sclerosis. The stiffness and the spasms of the muscles is also a common issue. In some cases, these ms symptoms can be so severe, that they can affect the standing or the walking activity and even lead to partial or complete paralysis. When it comes to muscle weakness and fatigue, many patients have reported that heat exposure makes the symptoms become worse.

Muscle spasticity is the term for muscles that go into spasms without any cause or warning. When this happens in cases diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, the spasticity can be either mild or highly severe. If it is severe, the spasms can be very painful and uncontrolled. Additionally, this can cause joint tightness and pain; and affect the walking ability.

Burning and Tingling Sensation, Loss of Sensation and Numbness

Burning and tingling sensations are also common symptoms of multiple sclerosis. Additionally, the opposite of these can also be found in patients suffering from this disease, including loss of sensation and numbness. A characteristic sensation that occurs with patients diagnosed with MS is sharp electricity spike that moves down the spine. This is called the ‘Lhermitte’s sign’.


Pain is rarely one of the early symptoms of MS. In most cases, pain occurs with trigeminal neuralgia and optic neuritis. This is a neurological disorder that can affect some of the nerves of the jaw, face and the cheek.
Additionally, painful limbs spasms can also be a pain-related ms symptom.

Balance and Coordination

Balance and coordination difficulties are common symptoms of multiple sclerosis. The majority of MS patients experience this type of difficulty at a certain point in the course of the disease. Some may even experience trembling that is continuous and affects the limbs, head and the body. This especially occurs during movement.

Certain studies have indicated that the majority of people diagnosed with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis need help with walking within 15 years of untreated diagnosis. Ataxia is the most common balance problems with people diagnosed with MS. This condition can be explained as uncoordinated movements, caused by damage of the parts of the brain that coordinate muscles movement. People who suffer from severe ataxia are recommended to use a walker, can or other type of walking assistive device. Additionally, they may be recommended some physical therapy too.


Fatigue is most common during the ms exacerbations. Feeling of tiredness can last for a long time in the cases of MS.

The fatigue in MS cases can be physical and psychological. The first one is characterized by feelings such as tiredness in the legs, while the second one is usually a result of depression.

The most important measures recommended in fatigue symptoms are avoidance of excessive activity and heat. Heat is known to aggravate the symptoms of multiple sclerosis.

Urinary problems

Urinary problems such as bladder control loss and urgency attacks are also common signs of multiple sclerosis. In some cases, MS patients can also develop constipation and inability to perform sexually.

Psychiatric Disorders and Depression

Depression is one of the most common signs and symptoms of MS. Usually, the people with MS suffer from mild depression, but a small number may even develop more severe disorders related to psychiatry, such as paranoia and bipolar disorder.

Cognitive Problems

Thinking, memorizing and learning can also be negatively affected by MS. People who have been suffering from this condition for a longer period of time are especially affected by such symptoms. They often have periods when they cannot express themselves or start forgetting how the most simple, routine daily tasks are done. The early signs of cognitive dysfunction can easily be missed since they are usually really subtle. Additionally, the changes may be really slow and a person may be unable to notice them until they become more serious.

Problems with Vision

Problems with vision are commonly occurring in MS cases, but permanent blindness is rarely occurring. Damaging the myelin and optic nerve inflammation are the two factors that can cause number of vision symptoms such as graying and blurring of vision, loss of color vision, blindness in one eye or both eyes, depth perception or scotoma. Scotoma can be defined as a dark spot located right in the center of the visual field.

Jumping vision is the term used for the uncontrolled vertical and horizontal eye movement, a condition common to MS patients. This symptom of ms can be mild or severe and can impair the vision of the patient.

Double vision or diplopia is a condition that can occur when the eyes of a person are not well aligned. If a pair of muscles that controls certain eye movement is not coordinated as a result of MS induced weakness, this condition may occur.


Tremor is commonly developed as an ms symptom. Uncontrollable shaking is most often triggered by movement and can be really disabling to the person who is experiencing it.

Inappropriate Crying and Laughing

This condition is commonly referred to as pseudobulbar affect. The inappropriate laughing and crying are often not related to the mood of the person. A person who is experiencing this symptom may be happy when they cry or vice versa.

Multiple sclerosis is a difficult disease to live with. The symptoms of this incurable disease can be not only uncomfortable, but also life-altering and even life-threatening. This is why it is highly important that people diagnosed with this disease take care of their care and follow the doctor’s recommendations. If not treated properly, multiple sclerosis may cause the patient an even bigger deal of trouble and pain. Many MS patients nowadays are forced to quit their jobs due to the untreated condition that does not allow them to function normally. Additionally, the improper treatment presents danger to the life of the patient.