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Symptoms can range from mild to severe depending on what part of the brain, spinal cord, or optic nerves have been affected. Symptoms may last for a few days or be permanent. You may have symptoms that improve and then come back months to years after they have initially occurred. In some cases, even though the initial symptoms improve, you may have permanent changes that your doctor is able to detect during your exam.

Central Nervous System
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The most common symptoms of MS include:

  • Numbness or tingling in the legs, arms, face, or extremities
  • Impaired vision in one or both eyes, including:
    • Blurred vision
    • Double vision
    • Loss of vision
    • Changes in color perception
    • Pain around the affected eye, pain with eye movement
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Muscle stiffness and spasms
  • Muscle weakness
  • Poor coordination or falling
  • Trouble walking or maintaining balance
  • Paralysis in one or more limbs
  • Bladder problems including:
    • Urgency
    • Hesitancy
    • Incomplete emptying
    • Incontinence
  • Bowel problems, including constipation or, less commonly, incontinence
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Forgetfulness, memory loss, or confusion
  • Trouble concentrating or solving problems
  • Depression

Less common symptoms include:

  • Slurred speech
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Psychiatric disorders
  • Euphoria or inappropriate emotional responses
  • Headache
  • Seizures
  • Tremor
  • Breathing problems
  • Itching

Factors that may trigger or worsen symptoms include:

  • Internal or external heat, including:
    • Hot weather
    • Hot baths or showers
    • Fever
  • Overexertion
  • Infection

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: Rimas Lukas, MD
  • Review Date: 09/2014 -
  • Update Date: 09/17/2014 -
  • Multiple sclerosis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php . Updated August 10, 2012. Accessed August 31, 2012.

  • Multiple Sclerosis Society. News item. Multiple Sclerosis Society website. Available at: http://www.nationalmssociety.org/news/news-detail/index.aspx?nid=2568 . Accessed August 31, 2012.

  • Multiple Sclerosis. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/multiple%5Fsclerosis/multiple%5Fsclerosis.htm . Accessed August 31, 2012.

  • About MS. National Multiple Sclerosis Society website. Available at: http://nationalmssociety.org/about-multiple-sclerosis/what-we-know-about-ms/treatments/index.aspx . Accessed August 31, 2012.