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    You are here : Home » About MS » MS Symptoms

    MS Symptoms

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    MS Symptoms

    (Some are common to most people, some are relatively rare)

    MSRC believes that based on experience, people cope best when they look at what is happening, rather than what might be.

    MS can cause a long list of symptoms; this list is not exhaustive and it is extremely unlikely that any one person would experience all or even most of these symptoms. Most will only experience a small number of these. The combination, severity and frequency will be different for everyone.

    Symptoms can come and go; some are much more responsive to treatment whereas others are more difficult to manage.

    Outside influences can exacerbate symptoms. For example, hot weather can make fatigue worsen. Infections can cause all sorts of other complications, however once the infection is treated the symptoms should subside.

    New symptoms may not always be down to your MS. It is important to remember that not every ache and pain is connected and if a new symptom persists and becomes an on-going problem, you should seek medical advice.

    Below are some of the more common symptoms experienced, with a brief explanation. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms and they are causing you problems, it is advisable to contact your GP or MS Nurse or ask to be referred to the appropriate specialist. Most symptoms can be treated; you do not have to just ‘put up’ with them!

    Muscle and Motor Disturbances
    This can be the loss of control of one or more limbs. For example, Myoclonus (sudden and uncontrollable shock-like movements or "jerks" of a muscle or a group of muscles), swallowing difficulties, tremor, spasticity and the inability to perform fine movements – e.g. doing up buttons, tying shoe laces etc. Legs or arms may suddenly go into spasm which is often painful. Walking may become difficult.

    Loss of Co-ordination
    This can include dizziness and vertigo, ataxia, staggering, clumsiness (spilling and dropping things).

    Extreme tiredness, otherwise known as fatigue, is a common symptom of MS. This is an invisible symptom that is not obvious to other people and can be quite difficult to cope with and manage. There are a number of ways in which people learn to live with their fatigue and drug treatments are also available.

    For more detailed information, please see our Choices leaflet Fatigue

    Visual disturbances
    The most common symptom that can affect your vision is Optic Neuritis – inflammation of the optic nerve, which is also one of the more common first symptoms that can lead to a diagnosis. Other problems can include things like double vision, temporary loss of vision, nystagmus (rhythmical oscillations of the eye ball), and pain. Steroids are often given to help treat some of these symptoms.

    For more detailed information, please see our Choices leaflet Visual Distrubances

    The impairment of sensory perception includes the loss of feeling in limbs and other areas; tingling, varying degrees of pain, including Neuropathic Pain.

    Heat Intolerance
    Heat Intolerance or anhidrosis as it is scientifically known, is a classic symptom of MS where a rise in temperature whether it’s internally or externally, may temporarily increase symptoms

    Bladder and Bowel problems
    Bladder problems include the need to empty the bladder more frequently and more urgently than perhaps is normal. Constipation is the most common bowel problem. A referral to a Continence Advisor will help to find ways in which to deal with problems in all these areas.

    One of the lesser known symptoms of MS. This at long last, is being acknowledged and treated. There are two main types of pain that can occur – Neuropathic and Musculoskeletal. Once the cause is identified the pain can be treated accordingly with either drugs or by seeing someone like a Physiotherapist or a Pain Clinic.

    For more detailed information, please see our Choices leaflet Pain

    MS 'Hug'
    Multiple Sclerosis "Hug" or "Girdle" - This is the term for one of the rather strange and weird symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis which can be classed as one of the many invisible symptoms but also as a spasm-type symptom.

    L'hermittes Sign
    L'hermittes sign is an electric shock-like sensation which radiates down the back and into the legs when someone flexes their neck. It is a common early symptom of MS. In itself it is not a diagnostic however. It simply indicates a particular type of nerve damage, for which there are a variety of causes.

    Psychological Symptoms
    Cognitive problems - including: loss of memory and mental concentration and depression are quite common MS symptoms.

    Symptoms can become more pronounced when MS is active and may lessen or disappear again when the MS is quiet. In some people, symptoms fluctuate when the person is tired, upset or anxious.

    If you are experiencing some of these symptoms, or others that may not be mentioned, you can contact MSRC for more information, advice and support.

    FatigueDo you know what problems Multiple Sclerosis patients come across every day?

    Take part in a simulation which will help you understand the kind of difficulties they struggle with.

    Feel what MS is about. Remember, this is not just a game.

    You will only be struggling for a moment against the problems that these patients deal with every day.

    To take part in the simulation go to

    © Multiple Sclerosis Resource Centre

    Related Items
    Bladder Problems
    Bowel Problems
    Breathing Difficulties In MS
    Cognitive Problems in MS
    Depression and Anxiety
    Dizziness and Vertigo
    Heat Intolerance
    L'hermitte's Sign
    Multiple Sclerosis Hug or Girdle
    Neuropathic Pain
    Optic Neuritis
    Sex and MS
    Speech Difficulties
    Swallowing Difficulties
    Visual Disturbances
    Associated Illnesses
    Carers and Caring
    Causes of MS
    Financial Impact
    Health Consequences of MS
    Latest MS News
    Mobility Issues
    MS Nurses
    MS Organisations - International
    MS Organisations - UK
    MS Resources For Children, Teens & Parents
    MS Therapy Centres (UK and Ireland)
    Multiple Sclerosis Diagnosis
    Multiple Sclerosis Treatments
    Paediatric Multiple Sclerosis
    Personal MS Web Sites
    Research / Trials
    Specialist MS Centres & Specialist Neurology Teams
    The Geography Of Multiple Sclerosis
    Types of Multiple Sclerosis

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