Early Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis

Nearly 1 million people in the U.S. have multiple sclerosis (MS), according to the Cleveland Clinic. MS is a disease that occurs when the immune system attacks healthy cells in the body, damaging the protective covering of nerves in the brain, spinal cord, and throughout the body. A progressive condition, MS often begins with mild symptoms that grow worse as damage to the nerves continues. Although there is no cure for MS, treatments are available to slow progression and prevent disability. Getting treatment early can lead to better outcomes. As a result, it’s important that you’re able to recognize the signs and symptoms of multiple sclerosis.

Muscle and Movement Symptoms
As MS damages the nerves that control the muscles and joints, people with the condition may experience symptoms related to movement. These include:

  • Numbness or weakness: MS can cause a feeling of weakness or numbness in one or more limbs. Often, it affects one side of the body or both legs. These symptoms can make it difficult to move the affected limb.
  • Gait problems: MS can make it difficult to take regular steps. People with the condition may be unsteady on their feet and at risk of falling.
  • Tremors: MS can cause the hands, limbs, or the whole body to quiver or tremble. The tremors may be slight or severe enough to be visible to other people.
  • Discomfort: Individuals with MS may experience electric shock-like sensations, especially when they move their necks. It can also cause muscle spasms, which may be painful.

Vision Symptoms
In many people, multiple sclerosis attacks the optic nerve that carries signals from the eyes to the brain. If this occurs, it can lead to the following symptoms:

  • Vision loss: MS can cause partial or total loss of vision. It often begins in one eye.
  • Double vision: Damage due to MS can cause a person to see double. The double vision persists even after blinking and lasts for long periods of time.
  • Blurred vision: MS may lead to blurred vision up close or at a distance. At first, changes may be mistaken for age-related vision problems.
  • Pain: Individuals with MS may experience muscle pain when moving their eyes.

Continue reading on the next page to discover more symptoms and when to seek medical treatment.