Multiple Sclerosis Facts and Symptoms

  • Multiple sclerosis, or MS, is a disease which progressively injures the nerves of the brain and spinal cord.
  • Injury to the nerves in multiple sclerosis may be reflected by alterations of virtually any sensory or motor function in the body.
  • The cause of multiple sclerosis is unknown, but it has become widely accepted that genetic, immunological, and environmental factors play a role.
  • The selection of drug treatment/therapy should be made after the patient with multiple sclerosis has been properly informed of drug efficacy, particular FDA-approved uses, administration routes, risks of adverse events, and methods to enhance tolerability and compliance.

Early symptoms of MS may include blurred vision, double vision, lack of coordination, loss of balance, numbness or tingling. Not everyone has the same symptoms. You may experience one symptom and then go months without any others. Unfortunately for most, the symptoms become worse within weeks or months. Common symptoms include:

  • Numbness or tingling sensations: People with MS often say they feel a ""pins and needles"" sensation. They may also have numbness, itching, burning, stabbing, or tearing pains. About half of people with MS have these uncomfortable symptoms. Fortunately, they can be managed or treated.
  • Bladder issues: Increased frequency of urination, urgency, dribbling, hesitancy, and incontinence. Bowel problems, especially constipation, are also common.
  • Difficulty walking: MS can cause muscle weakness or spasms, which make it harder to walk. Balance problems, numb feet, and fatigue can also make walking difficult.
  • Dizziness: It's common to feel dizzy or lightheaded. You usually won't have vertigo, or the feeling that the room is spinning.
  • Fatigue: About 8 in 10 people feel very tired. It often comes on in the afternoon and causes weak muscles, slowed thinking, or sleepiness. It's usually not related to the amount of work you do. Some people with MS say they can feel tired even after a good night's sleep.
  • Muscle spasms: These include weakness, problems with coordination and loss of balance. The muscle-related symptoms most often occur in the arms and legs. At times, these symptoms may impair walking. Spasticity, which is the involuntary tightening of a muscle, can manifest as stiffness, pain or spasms.
  • Sexual difficulties: More than 90% of men and 70% of women with MS report some change in their sexual life after the onset of the disease. Some problems include decreased sexual drive, impaired sensation, diminished orgasmic response, and loss of sexual interest.

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