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Multiple Sclerosis Center

MS Symptoms

Early symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS)
Although there is no current cure for multiple sclerosis (MS), early detection of symptoms and medical treatment may slow down progression of the condition and help control discomfort. Symptoms of MS may be mild or severe, of long duration or short, and may appear in various combinations, depending on the area of the nervous system affected. Symptoms of MS depend upon the area of the central nervous system that loses myelin. This is because the process of demyelinization begins in the brain, optic nerve and spinal brain.

Care should be taken in interpreting the symptoms of MS, as these symptoms are present during other conditions as well. This means that not everyone experiencing MS symptoms will be diagnosed with MS. Some early symptoms of multiple sclerosis include:

  • difficulty walking or performing tasks that require coordination
  • dizziness
  • double vision
  • fatigue
  • inability to coordinate voluntary muscle movements (ataxia)
  • loss of sensation
  • muscle weakness
  • nausea
  • numbness, prickling, tingling or "pins and needles" (especially in the leg or arm)
  • tremors
  • trouble with balance
  • visual disturbances

Symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS)
As the symptoms of MS progress, they may become more severe and include

  • blindness
  • disease or injury of the nerves (trigeminal nerve)
  • loss of bowel or bladder control
  • muscle spasms
  • paralysis
  • sexual problems
  • slurred speech
  • thinking and memory problems

Other conditions
It’s essential to note here that a number of other diseases may produce symptoms similar to those seen in MS. Conditions with an intermittent course and MS-like lesions of the brain's white matter include:

  • cancer
  • lupus erythematosus
  • polyarteritis
  • syringomyelia
  • tropical spastic paraparesis
  • tumors that compress the brainstem or spinal cord

Physicians will also need to rule out stroke, neurosyphilis, spinocerebellar ataxias, pernicious anemia, diabetes, Sjogren's disease, Epstein-Barr or herpes simplex B viruses, Lyme disease and vitamin B12 deficiency as possible diagnoses as well. But how do and when should you seek help?

When to seek help
If you are experiencing symptoms of MS such as numbness or tingling in any part of your body or if suspect that you may have MS, schedule a visit with your doctor. Your doctor will take a medical history, perform a physical exam, and possibly take some tests to rule out other causes of your symptoms. To learn more about how to diagnose multiple sclerosis, continue reading about testing for MS symptoms here.

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