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Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms

What are the symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis?

The central nervous system (CNS) controls much of the body's functioning and much of this activity passes through the white matter at some point. It is not surprising, therefore, that a disease which damages white matter can produce a very wide range of symptoms. Indeed, there are few diseases with more potential symptoms than multiple sclerosis.

In this section, I list many of the symptoms of MS and, in the next section, I will list some of their treatments.

Few of the symptoms of MS are unique to the disease and, even if you have one or more of them, it doesn't necessarily mean that you have multiple sclerosis. However, all of these symptoms deserve medical attention and you should see a doctor if you develop any of them.

I've arranged the symptoms into these groupings: Visual, Motor, Sensory, Coordination and Balance, Bowel, Bladder and Sexual, Cognitive and Others. Please remember that most people with MS won't get most of these symptoms and the ones that seem the most terrifying usually only manifest themselves in the later stages of the disease.

I want to skim through each symptom at quite a high level and discuss them in more detail in the encylopaedia. I've set up links to the encylopaedia pieces for each one. As is usual with stuff on this site, it's all work in progress. This section more than any other will take time to complete, but you can see it while it builds up.
Visual Symptoms
Symptom Description
Optic Neuritis Blurred vision, eye pain, loss of colour vision, blindness
Diplopia Double Vision
Nystagmus Jerky Eye Movements
Ocular Dysmetria Constant under- or overshooting eye movements
Internuclear Ophthalmoplegia Lack of coordination between the two eyes, nystagmus, diplopia
Movement and sound phosphenes Flashing lights when moving eyes or in response to a sudden noise
Afferent Pupillary Defect Abnormal pupil responses
Motor Symptoms
Symptom Description
Paresis, Monoparesis, Paraparesis, Hemiparesis, Quadraparesis Muscle weakness - partial or mild paralysis
Plegia, Paraplegia, Hemiplegia, Tetraplegia, Quadraplegia Paralysis - Total or near total loss of muscle strength
Spasticity Loss of muscle tone causing stiffness, pain and restricting free movement of affected limbs
Dysarthria Slurred speech and related speech problems
Muscle Atrophy Wasting of muscles due to lack of use
Spasms, Cramps Involuntary contraction of muscles
Hypotonia, Clonus Problems with posture
Myoclonus, Myokymia Jerking and twitching muscles, Tics
Restless Leg Syndrome Involuntary Leg Movements, especially bothersome at night
Footdrop Foot drags along floor during walking
Dysfunctional Reflexes MSRs, Babinski's, Hoffman's, Chaddock's
Sensory Symptoms
Symptom Description
Paraesthesia Partial numbness, tingling, buzzing and vibration sensations
Anaesthesia Complete numbness/loss of sensation
Neuralgia, Neuropathic and Neurogenic pain Pain without apparent cause, burning, itching and electrical shock sensations
L'Hermitte's Electric shocks and buzzing sensations when moving head
Proprioceptive Dysfunction Loss of awareness of location of body parts
Trigeminal Neuralgia Facial pain
Coordination and Balance Symptoms
Ataxia Loss of coordination
Intention tremor Shaking when performing fine movements
Dysmetria Constant under- or overshooting limb movements
Vestibular Ataxia Abnormal balance function in the inner ear
Vertigo Nausea/vomitting/sensitivity to travel sickness from vestibular ataxia
Speech Ataxia Problems coordinating speech, stuttering
Dystonia Slow limb position feedback
Dysdiadochokinesia Loss of ability to produce rapidly alternating movements, for example to move to a rhythm
Bowel, Bladder and Sexual Symptoms
Symptom Description
Frequent Micturation, Bladder Spasticity Urinary urgency and incontinence
Flaccid Bladder, Detrusor-Sphincter Dyssynergia Urinary hesitancy and retention
Erectile Dysfunction Male and female impotence
Anorgasmy Inability to achieve orgasm
Retrograde ejaculation Ejaculating into the bladder
Frigidity Inability to become sexually aroused
Constipation Infrequent or irregular bowel movements
Fecal Urgency Bowel urgency
Fecal Incontinence Bowel incontinence
Cognitive Symptoms
Symptom Description
Cognitive dysfunction Short-term and long-term memory problems, forgetfulness, slow word recall
Mood swings, emotional lability, euphoria  
Bipolar syndrome  
Aphasia, Dysphasia Impairments to speech comprehension and production 
Other Symptoms
Symptom Description
Uhthoff's Symptom Increase in severity of symptoms with heat
Gastroesophageal Reflux Acid reflux
  Impaired sense of taste and smell
  Epileptic seizures
  Swallowing problems
  Respiratory problems
Sleeping Disorders   
  Inappropriately cold body parts
  Autonomic nervous system problems 

Prognosis | Back | MS Treatments

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