What are the classic 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 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; these occur in 33% of patients

  • Heat intolerance

  • Constitutional symptoms - especially fatigue (which occurs in 70% of cases) and dizziness; fatigue must be differentiated from depression (which may, however, coexist), lack of sleep, and exertional exhaustion due to disability

  • 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 appear late in the disease course but is sometimes found at the time of initial diagnosis.

  • Symptoms associated with partial acute transverse myelitis

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