Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis
Depending on where in the nervous system these areas of damage are located, all sorts of different signal paths could be affected--which explains the wide array of symptoms that one sees in MS patients. For instance, if an exacerbation causes damage to the myelin of nerve cells running to the muscles of a person's leg, that person could experience difficulty controlling the leg, or partial or total paralysis.
If the exacerbation causes damage to the myelin of the optic nerves (the nerves that carry signals between the eyes and the brain), that person could experience blurry or decreased vision. Oftentimes, an MS patient experiences remissions--periods of lessening or even total disappearance of symptoms which can go on for months.
Then another exacerbation occurs and the symptoms return--or new ones occur as new areas of the nervous system come under attack. This damage can also start to build up, leaving the patient a little more disabled after each new attack.
Then there are secondary symptoms that result from the damage caused directly by the disease. For instance, if damage to the nerves controlling a person's leg results in permanent loss of the use of that leg, the leg's muscles can begin to atrophy (waste away) from lack of use.
The following is only a partial list of all the types of symptoms one might see in MS patients.
Muscle control problems
- weakness, paralysis, or tremor of one or more limbs
- muscle atrophy (wasting away)
- muscle spasms (especially in the legs)
Problems involving sensation and touch
- numbness, decreased or abnormal sensation in any area
- facial pain
- pain in an extremity
Problems with vision and hearing
- loss of vision -- usually affecting one eye at a time
- double vision
- eye discomfort
- uncontrollable rapid eye movements
- worsening of eye symptoms on movement of the eyes
- hearing loss
Coordination and balance problems
- general decreased coordination
- general loss of balance
- decreased ability to control small or intricate movements
- walking/gait abnormalities
Problems with elimination
- urinary hesitancy, difficulty with beginning urinating
- strong urge to urinate (urinary urgency)
- frequent need to urinate
- incontinence (leakage of urine, loss of control over urination)
Problems with brain function
- decreased memory, spontaneity, and judgment
- loss of ability to think abstractly and to generalize
- decreased attention span
- abnormal movement, slowly progressive and beginning in the legs
- slurred speech
- difficulty understanding speech
Other secondary symptoms
- fatigue, getting tired easily