Signs and symptoms of multiple sclerosis vary, depending on the location of affected nerve fibers. MS signs and symptoms may include:
- Numbness or weakness in one or more limbs that typically occurs on one side of your body at a time, or the legs and trunk
- Partial or complete loss of vision, usually in one eye at a time, often with pain during eye movement
- Double vision or blurring of vision
- Tingling or pain in parts of your body
- Electric-shock sensations that occur with certain neck movements, especially bending the neck forward
- Tremor, lack of coordination or unsteady gait
- Slurred speech
- Problems with bowel and bladder function
Most people with MS have a relapsing-remitting course, with new symptoms (relapse) that develop over days or weeks and usually improve partially or completely, followed by a quiet period (remission) that can last months or even years. Small increases in body temperature can temporarily worsen signs and symptoms of MS, but that type of event isn't a relapse.
About 60 to 70 percent of people with relapsing-remitting MS eventually develop a steady progression of symptoms, with or without periods of remission (secondary-progressive MS). The worsening symptoms usually include problems with gait. The rate of progression varies greatly among people with secondary-progressive MS.
Some people with MS experience a gradual onset and steady progression of signs and symptoms with no relapses (primary-progressive MS).
July 10, 2014
- AskMayoExpert. What is multiple sclerosis? Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2014.
- Daroff RB, et al. Bradley's Neurology in Clinical Practice. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Elsevier Saunders; 2012. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed April 4, 2014.
- Ferri FF. Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2014: 5 Books in 1. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2014. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed April 4, 2014.
- Olek MJ. Epidemiology and clinical features of multiple sclerosis in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed April 4, 2014.
- Wingerchuk DM (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. May 13, 2014.
- Kantarci O. Treatment of primary progressive multiple sclerosis. Seminars in Neurology. 2013;33:74.
- Keegan BM. Therapeutic decision making in a new drug era in multiple sclerosis. Seminars in Neurology. 2013;33:5.
- Goldman L, et al. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2012. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed April 4, 2014.
- Lotze TE. Pathogenesis, clinical features, and diagnosis of pediatric multiple sclerosis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed April 5, 2014.
- Kantarci OH, et al. Novel immunomodulatory approaches for the management of multiple sclerosis. Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics. 2014;95:32.
- Olek MJ. Treatment of relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed April 4, 2014.
- Olek MJ. Treatment of acute exacerbations of multiple sclerosis in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed April 4, 2014.
- Wingerchuk DM. Multiple sclerosis: Current and emerging disease-modifying therapies and treatment strategies. Mayo Clinic Proceedings. 2014;89:225.
- Pizzorno JE, et al. Textbook of Natural Medicine. 4th ed. St. Louis, Mo.: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier; 2013. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed April 4, 2014.
- Riggin EA. Decision Support System. Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. April 22, 2014.
You Are ... The Campaign for Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization. Make a difference today.