Which clinical findings are consistent with multiple sclerosis (MS)?

Updated: Oct 08, 2019
  • Author: Christopher Luzzio, MD; Chief Editor: Jasvinder Chawla, MD, MBA  more...
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Patients with MS may demonstrate a variety of abnormal physical findings, and these findings may change from examination to examination, depending on the pattern of disease and whether the patient is having an exacerbation or relapse. Findings may include the following:

  • Localized weakness

  • Focal sensory disturbances (with persistent decrease of proprioception and vibration)

  • Hyperreactive reflexes with clonus in the ankles and upgoing toes

  • Increased tone or stiffness in the extremities, with velocity-dependent passive range of motion

Additional signs may include poor coordination of upper and lower extremity movements, the Lhermitte sign, and wide-based gait with inability to tandem walk.

Secondary problems may include infections, urinary problems, skin breakdown, and musculoskeletal complaints. The skin should be examined in all nonambulatory patients, and the musculoskeletal system must be addressed as appropriate.

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