NATIONAL MS SOCIETY
NATIONAL MS SOCIETY: CLICK TO READ MORE"Symptoms of MS are unpredictable and vary from person to person and from time to time in the same person. For example, one person may experience abnormal fatigue, while another might have severe vision problems. A person with MS could have loss of balance and muscle coordination making walking difficult; another person with MS could have slurred speech, tremors, stiffness, and bladder problems. While some symptoms will come and go over the course of the disease, others may be more lasting."
UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND MEDICAL CENTER
UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND MEDICAL CENTER: CLICK TO READ MORE"Onset of symptoms occurs between the ages of 20 and 40 years in 70% of MS patients. Early symptoms that occur in more than 10% of patients include the following:
Optic neuritis and other problems in the eye. Optic neuritis (inflammation of the nerves in the eye) occurs in 16% of patients. Vision, usually in one eye, becomes unclear or doubled, and there may be a shimmering effect. Pain or nystagmus (involuntary jerking or movement of the eye) may also occur. In many patients this is the first symptom of multiple sclerosis. In 20% of people with this condition, MS develops within two years after the onset. In 45% to 80%, MS develops within 15 years. About 17% of people experience impaired eye movement.
Fatigue. Fatigue is typically worse in the afternoon and may be accompanied by an increase in body temperature. (At the onset, this occurs in about 20% of patients, but as the disease progresses, this is a significant symptom in nearly all patients.)
Changes in sensations in the arms and legs. Patients can experience heaviness, weakness, or clumsiness in the limbs. Tingling or loss of sensations can also occur, most commonly in the legs. (The first symptoms for patients with primary progressive MS often develop slowly in the upper legs.)
Lhermitte's sign. This is an electrical sensation that runs down the back and into the legs, which is produced by bending the neck forward.
Disturbances in the bladder.
Symptoms that Occur Over Time
In addition to the persistence of early symptoms, about half of patients experience the following symptoms as the disease progresses. They can occur in practically every region in the body and may include the following:
Imbalance and dizziness.
Spasm-related symptoms. Among the other types of pain and spasm-related symptoms that can occur during attacks are burning, itching, aching, speech difficulties, and quivering sensations. They usually occur in the extremities and last seconds to minutes. Some people report itches lasting as long as 30 seconds.
Symptoms in the gastrointestinal, urinary, and genital tracts.
Emotional mood swings. Depression is very common.
Possible Symptom Triggers
Stress. There is a significant correlation between severe stress and exacerbation of MS symptoms. For example, in one 2002 study, 85% of instances of worsening MS were associated with stressful events that occurred within an average of 14 days before the episode. (Stress is not a cause of MS, however.)
Trauma. Some experts believe that injury (trauma) to the head, neck, or upper back may trigger new or recurrent symptoms by disrupting the blood-brain barrier and allowing immunological attacks on the brain. This is a highly controversial theory, however, with very little supporting evidence."
JOHNS HOPKINS HOSPITAL
JOHNS HOPKINS HOSPITAL: CLICK TO READ MORE"Muscle weakness and stiffness in the arms and legs.
Eye pain and visual disturbances, including blurry vision, loss of vision in one eye, or a sudden inability to distinguish colors (optic neuritis).
Tingling or prickling sensations.
Disturbances in gait; loss of coordination.
Vertigo with nausea and vomiting.
Loss of bladder control and constipation.
Emotional depression and mood swings.
Mental confusion or loss of memory.
Paralysis of one side of the face.
Partial or complete paralysis of the body."
MAYO CLINIC: CLICK TO READ MORE"Symptoms of multiple sclerosis vary widely, depending on the location of affected nerve fibers. Signs and symptoms of multiple sclerosis may include:
Numbness or weakness in one or more limbs, which typically occurs on one side of the body at a time or the bottom half of the body
Partial or complete loss of vision, usually in one eye at a time, often with pain during eye movement
Double vision or blurring of vision
Tingling or pain in numb areas of the body
Electric-shock sensations that occur with certain head movements
Tremor, lack of coordination or unsteady gait
In some cases, people with MS may also develop muscle stiffness or spasticity, slurred speech, paralysis, or problems with bladder, bowel or sexual function. Mental changes such as forgetfulness or difficulties with concentration also can occur."
CLEVELAND CLINIC: MELLEN MS CENTER
CLEVELAND CLINIC: CLICK TO READ MORE"The symptoms that MS patients experience depend on the area of the brain or spinal cord affected. The symptoms involve various portions of the nervous system and occur over a period of time. Demyelination in the nerve pathways that send messages to the muscles causes problems with movement (motor symptoms), while demyelination along the nerve pathways that carry sensations to the brain causes disturbances in sensation (sensory symptoms). The most common early symptoms are tingling, numbness, loss of balance, weakness, blurred or double vision. The less common symptoms may include slurred speech, sudden onset of paralysis or incoordination.
Some patients may notice that symptoms worsen or increase in frequency after an illness (such as a cold), a fever, hot bath, exercise or time spent outside on a hot day. Any symptoms related to rise in body heat might not necessarily mean that your MS is worsening. If you notice a symptom that is not affiliated with any rise in body temperature and last longer than 24 hours, you should notify your doctor.
Multiple sclerosis follows a varied and unpredictable course. In many people, the disease starts with a single symptom, followed by months or even years without any further symptoms. In others, the symptoms become worse within weeks or months. It is important to understand that although a wide range of symptoms can occur, a given individual may experience only some of the symptoms and never have others. Some symptoms may occur once, resolve, and never return. Since MS is such an individual disease, it is not helpful to compare yourself with other MS patients.
(changes in sensation)
(changes in muscle function)
Other abnormal sensations
(“pins & needles,” pain)
Stiffness Heat sensitivity
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