An Overview of Multiple Sclerosis: Diagnosis and Management Strategies

Kathleen Costello, RN, MS, CRNP, MSCN; Colleen J. Harris, RN, MN, NP, MSCN


Topics in Advanced Practice Nursing eJournal. 2006;6(1) 

In This Article

Symptoms of MS

The symptoms of MS vary widely in location and severity among individuals. Common symptoms include fatigue, numbness, focal weakness, visual changes such as unilateral visual loss and diplopia, spasticity, elimination dysfunction, and depression. Less common are dysarthria, neuritic pain, vertigo, ataxia, cognitive dysfunction, and tremor. Rare symptoms are hearing loss, tinnitus, seizures, and paralysis. Common symptoms at presentation include unilateral visual loss from optic neuritis, diplopia, numbness and tingling of the extremities, or multiple symptoms appearing simultaneously.[6] (See Table 1 .)

Symptoms at onset can be unifocal or multifocal. They do not, however, follow any pattern of presentation or pattern for subsequent relapses. For example, an optic neuritis in one eye does not indicate that optic neuritis will occur in the opposite eye. Numbness of an extremity at onset does not mean that numbness would involve that extremity again or another extremity. Optic neuritis could be the presenting symptom, followed by numbness or weakness sometime in the future. Often more than 1 symptom will occur during an exacerbation, and a fairly common thread is that generalized fatigue is often associated with other symptoms, particularly in a relapse.


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