Symptoms and signs of multiple sclerosis

Symptoms and signs of multiple sclerosis

Symptoms and signs of multiple sclerosis are as varied as the disease itself. The severity of the symptoms can also vary significantly from person to person.

The symptoms always depend on which areas of the central nervous system are affected and what effects this leads to.

First signs of multiple sclerosis

The following symptoms are expected at the onset of MS:

  • Sudden visual disturbances caused by inflammation of the optic nerve (optic neuritis) – occur in about 30 per cent of those affected.
  • Sensory disturbances, such as tingling, abnormal sensations or numbness
  • bladder disorders
  • Unsteadiness when walking, muscle weakness


Various symptoms possible

Ultimately, all areas of the motor and sensory system in the body can be affected by multiple sclerosis. The symptoms of MS can resemble those of other neurological diseases, such as Lyme diseasebrain tumours or herniated discs. The symptoms depend on which parts of the central nervous system are affected.

Ordinary, typical symptoms are:

  • Movement disorders with spasticity and tremor (shaking)
  • Bladder and bowel dysfunction
  • Visual disturbances with double vision
  • Fatigue (premature exhaustion)
  • heat sensitivity
  • cognitive disorders (memory disorders)
  • sensory disturbances (tingling in arms/legs)
  • speech disorders
  • dizziness
  • Depression
  • sexual dysfunctions

Typical symptoms of multiple sclerosis are physical disorders that develop within hours and days and are caused by one or more new foci of inflammation. Such a so-called thrust usually subsides within weeks – the corresponding function recovers completely (in around 75 per cent of the cases), or permanent restrictions remain due to scarring.

progressive forms of MS

When and how often symptoms appear also depends on what form it is. There are three different forms of multiple sclerosis:

  1. Relapsing course
  2. Chronic progressive course
  3. Chronic form

The most common form is the relapsing form. Symptoms present during a flare-up usually resolve within six to eight weeks. On average, there are one to two flare-ups per year.

If multiple sclerosis is not treated, the relapsing form usually changes to the chronic progressive form after ten years. The symptoms continue to increase without the limitations completely regressing.

In the primarily chronic form, which only occurs in around ten per cent of people with MS, the symptoms continue to worsen from the start without any distinct flare-ups occurring. This form of multiple sclerosis mainly occurs in people who develop the disease after the age of 40.

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