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Multiple Sclerosis (MS) - Symptoms

The symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS) vary from person to person depending on which parts of the brain or spinal cord (central nervous system) are damaged. The loss of myelin and scarring caused by MS can affect any part of the central nervous system. Myelin is the insulating coating around a nerve.

Symptoms may come and go or become more or less severe from day to day or, in rare cases, from hour to hour. Symptoms may become worse with increased body temperature or after a viral infection.

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When news anchor Neil Cavuto was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis a decade ago -- after surviving stage IV Hodgkin's lymphoma in the late '80s -- he sought second opinions in New York, Atlanta, Minnesota, and London, in his attempt to refute the undeniable. Ten years later, Cavuto both accepts his MS and defies it. Doctors marvel at his MRI scans because they indicate a man unable to walk or talk. Yet while he sometimes has difficulty doing both, the Fox News anchor is remarkably fit, exercising...

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Early symptoms

Common early symptoms of MS include:

  • Muscle or motor symptoms, such as weakness, leg dragging, stiffness, a tendency to drop things, a feeling of heaviness, clumsiness, or a lack of coordination (ataxia).
  • Visual symptoms, such as blurred, foggy, or hazy vision, eyeball pain (especially when you move your eyes), blindness, or double vision. Optic neuritis—sudden loss of vision that is often painful—is a fairly common first symptom. It occurs in up to 25 out of 100 people who have MS.
  • Sensory symptoms, such as tingling, a pins-and-needles sensation, numbness, a band of tightness around the trunk or legs, or electrical sensations moving down the back and legs.

Advanced symptoms

As MS progresses, symptoms may become more severe and may include:

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: February 15, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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