What are the signs and symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS)?

Updated: Oct 08, 2019
  • Author: Christopher Luzzio, MD; Chief Editor: Jasvinder Chawla, MD, MBA  more...
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Classic MS signs and symptoms are as follows:

  • Sensory loss (ie, paresthesias): Usually an early complaint

  • Spinal cord symptoms (motor): Muscle cramping secondary to spasticity

  • Spinal cord symptoms (autonomic): Bladder, bowel, and sexual dysfunction

  • Cerebellar symptoms: Charcot triad of dysarthria (scanning speech), nystagmus, and intention tremor

  • Optic neuritis

  • Trigeminal neuralgia: Bilateral facial weakness or trigeminal neuralgia

  • Facial myokymia (irregular twitching of the facial muscles): May also be a presenting symptom

  • Eye symptoms: Including diplopia on lateral gaze (33% of patients)

  • Heat intolerance

  • Constitutional symptoms: Especially fatigue (70% of cases) and dizziness

  • Pain: Occurs in  30–50% of patients at some point in their illness

  • Subjective cognitive difficulties: With regard to attention span, concentration, memory, and judgment

  • Depression: A common symptom

  • Euphoria: Less common than depression

  • Bipolar disorder or frank dementia: May be a late finding but is sometimes found at initial diagnosis

  • Symptoms associated with partial acute transverse myelitis

See Clinical Presentation for more detail.

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