Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis

Click on the symptom to see a video and learn more:


MS Ataxia/Tremors 

-  Ataxia or Intention tremor is an MS symptom that may occur in some.  Movement of the limbs become jerky instead of fluid.  Doctors test for this when you touch your nose and then their figure as fast as possible.   Ataxia is greatest during physical movement; there is no shaking when a person is at rest. The tremor develops and becomes more pronounced as the person tries to grasp or reach for something, or move a hand or foot to a precise spot.

         *Treatment consists of occupational therapy +/- medications.

MS Bladder    

-   Bladder Urgency (Feeling like you have to go all the time), hesitancy (can't go when you get there), incontinence, and urinary tract infections are a common Multiple Sclerosis Symptom.  

       *Treatments for those suffering from hesitancy and are unable to drain    their bladders often have to catheterize themselves to go.  Bladder urgency and incontinence can be controlled by medications (Detrol, Ditrapan, Vesicare, Desmopressin) - combined with behavioral changes are most effective. UTIs happen far less in people who supplement their diets with high does cranberry supplements, but this could be dangerous if you don't consult your doctor first. 

MS Bowel   

-   Bowel dysfunction is a Multiple Sclerosis Symptom that can cause a great deal of discomfort and embarrassment, and can aggravate other MS symptoms such as spasticity or bladder dysfunction. Constipation, loss of control of the bowels, and diarrhea are among the bowel problems that can occur in MS.

       * Treatment starts with adequate hydration. It is advised to drink at least 48 ounces (6 to 8 glasses) of fluids daily, Include plenty of fiber in your diet, get some physical activity, establish a regular time and schedule for emptying the bowels (bowel training/retraining). Medications like stool softeners, enemas, laxatives, and natural stool promoters are options.

Breathing / MS Hug  

-   Problems with breathing can be seen as a Multiple Sclerosis Symptom as shortness of breath, inability to take deep breaths, sleep apnea, frequent coughing or excessive hiccupping, or sighing. Many people living with MS report having the MS Hug which is pain or tightness in the chest. Those who experience the MS Hug may experience difficulties breathing because of the pain and tightness in the chest.  

       *Seek medical treatment right away. Whether it is with your doctor, urgent care, or the ER, if you are having breathing problems you need to seek medical treatment right away. 

MS Burning/ MS Numbness/ MSPins & Needles

- All symptoms that effect sensations are catagorized as Parasthesia.  This is when things don't feel as they should that resulting in the feeling or sensation of burning, itching, pins and needles and numbness.  

       * Treatments include a medication called NEURONTIN® (gabapentin) used to treat this, but it has side effects that some find worse that the discomfort of the symptom.  Tight fitting soft clothing (cuddle duds) can act as a buffer to painful skin on legs and arms. 

MS Cognitive Changes   

- Cognitive Dysfunction is a common Multiple Sclerosis Symptom that may include difficulties with information processing, memory lapses, recall failure, cognition fog, and forgetting what you say.

       * Treatments for improving memory include, making sure you get good sleep, reducing distractions, don't put off tasks, focus on one task at a time, setting reminders for yourself (alarms), restate others words to maximize comprehension, patience, and keeping written lists and reminders. 

MS Depression  

-  Studies have suggested that clinical depression—the most severe form—is more frequent among people with MS than it is in the general population or in many other chronic illnesses. The are two forms of depression- situational depression and clinical depression.  Situational is depression is when depression can be traced to an event happening in your life.  Clinical depression can start with situational depression but sometimes occurs when you know there is no logical reason for feeling as bad as you do.   Call your doctor as soon as you feel depressed because depression is successfully treatable when help is sought. 


MS Electrical Shock  

-   Lhermitte's sign is a common electrical shock sensation that goes down your spine when you tilt your head forward. You may have electric shocks, stings, or sudden flashes of pain with MS.

MS Emotional Changes

-   Changes that can occur in Multiple Sclerosis include moodiness, irritability, depression, stress, anxiety, uncontrollable episodes of laughing and/or crying, euphoria, mood swings.

       *Consult you neurologist.    

MS Fatigue   

- MS Fatigue is a Multiple Sclerosis Symptom that can be caused by exertion, lack of sleep, stress or depression, or overheating.  It can also be caused by demylination leaving the person feeling exhausted for no logical reason.

       * Treatments include exercise stamina building therapy, energy management, medications, sleep assessment, and psychological intervention.

Foot Drop   

-   Foot drop is a problem in Multiple Sclerosis that occurs as a result of damage to the myelin.  This is when a person becomes unable to lift the front part of their foot (toes) often leading to tripping and gate adaptations common to MS foot drop sufferers.  The weak muscles in the top of your foot can not overcome the super strong muscles on the bottom of your feet leading to curled toes or hammer toes.  

       *One solution is to go to a physical therapist who can assess your gait and recommend aids to improve your movement. 


MS Headache

-   Reports suggest that people with MS have an increased incidence of certain types of headache. One report noted that migraine headaches were more than twice as common in a group of MS patients than in a matched group of people without MS. Other investigators found a prior diagnosis of migraine in one-third of the MS group being studied. A third study found that 20 percent of a sample group of people with MS had a family history of migraine, compared to 10 percent of controls, suggesting that there may be a common predisposing factor to both MS and migraine. Vascular or migraine type headaches have even been reported as the first symptom of MS.  Stabbing headaches known as   Trigeminal Neuralgia are actually not a headache at all, but a nerve dysfunction known to as a paroxysmal symptoms.  

       *Treatments with medication is usually the protocol

MS Hearing 

-   Multiple Sclerosis Symptom of hearing deficits caused by MS are thought to be due to inflammation and/or scarring around the eighth cranial nerve (the auditory nerve) as it enters the brain stem, although plaques (abnormal areas that develop on nerves whose myelin has been destroyed) at other sites along the auditory pathways could also contribute to hearing problems. 

       *  Hearing deficits are so uncommon in MS, people with MS who do develop hearing loss should have their hearing thoroughly evaluated to rule out other causes.   

MS Itching   

-Also known as Pruritis (itching), this is another form of parenthesia that often occurs on the scalp, but can be an other areas and may result in self inflicted scratch wounds. 

       * Treatments - Some success has been reported from spraying a mixture of 50% water and 50% apple cider vinegar  (or Listerine) on the itchy areas. There are medications also available from your doctor. 

MS Pain  

-  Pain is a Multiple Sclerosis Symptom that can occur for many reasons.  Acute pain (temporary) happens as a result of acute spasticity, trigeminal neuralgia, Lhermitte’s sign, burning sensation, “girdling” (MS hug), and aching.  Chronic pain occurs with muscle spasms or cramps thank come as spasticity is not treated with stretching and medications.  Chronic aching and flu-like pain can stem from long term demyelinating of the brain.

       *Treatment with medications is an option your doctor may prescribe.  Other treatments include meditation, stretching, massage, acupressure/puncture, and CBD oil or medical marijuanna.

Seizures/Tonic Spasms 

-   Tonic Spasms are often confused with epileptic seizure in MS.  Epilepsy is not consistent with MS, but Tonic Spasms are.  This symptom is usually brought on by hyperventilation which results in  a sudden, abnormal, involuntary muscular contraction, consisting of a continued muscular contraction (tonic spasm) or of a series of alternating muscular contractions and relaxations (clonic spasm). 

       *Treatment includes medications


-   Men with Multiple Sclerosis erectile dysfunction, reduced sensation, difficulty achieving ejaculation may occur.  Women with Multiple Sclerosis sometime experience reduced sensation in the vaginal/clitoral area, painfully heightened sensation, and vaginal dryness.

       *Contact a Urologist or Gynecologist to get treatment for this symptom.


- Insomnia, too much sleep, and quality sleep can be a problem with MS.  Pain, bladder, apnea, and thought are things that interfere with sleep.

       *It is often recommended that a person with problems with sleep contact a sleep clinic to determine the issue causing the problem.  Your doctor can refer you to one.

MS Spasticity

-  Spasticity is a Multiple Sclerosis Symptom where legs lock out, cramp, or become rigid.  This usually happens because two opposing muscles fire at the same time locking the 

       * Treatments include physical therapy, stretching, and medications

MS Speech 

-  Slurring (dysarthria), loss of volume (dysphonia), stuttering (posodicaly) are other Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms

       *  Treatment for this is often done by a speech/language pathologist, who can evaluate and help to improve speech patterns, enunciation and oral communication in general. 

MS Swallowing  

-  Dysphagia, or difficulty in swallowing is a Multiple Sclerosis Symptom that can occur episodically  among people with MS. While more frequent in advanced disease, it can occur at any stage. 

       * Treatment for this is often done by a speech/language pathologist- the professional who diagnoses and treats dysphagia. Treatment typically consists of strategies for safer eating and swallowing, dietary changes, exercises or stimulation designed to improve swallowing. Thickening fluid has helped some. 

MS Vision/Eyes  

-   Optic neuritis (ON) is the most common Multiple Sclerosis Symptom that may result in blurring or graying of vision, or blindness in one eye. A scotoma or dark spot may occur in the center of the visual field. This can be painful. ON is most always temporary. Nystagmus is uncontrolled horizontal or vertical eye movements, may be mild.   Diplopia, or double vision, occurs when the pair of muscles that control a particular eye movement are not perfectly coordinated due to weakness in one or both pairs of muscles. This usually occurs with eye fatigue and usually resolves without treatment. 

       *Treatments vary depending on the problem.  Seek treatment if you are experiencing visual symptom. Temporary solutions include an eye patch, corrective glasses, prism glasses, and steroids.  

MS Walking    

-  Multiple Sclerosis can effect in several ways including weakness, drop foot, heavy legs, spasticity, loss of balance, sensory deficit and fatigue. 

       * Treatment involves going to a gate specific physical therapist, mobility aides, and medications.



-   Weakness is seen in MS as a result of deconditioning of unused muscles or damage to nerves that stimulate muscles.   can be managed with rehabilitation strategies and the use of mobility aids and other assistive devices.    

       * Treatment is critical to gain and/or maintain physical abilities.  This is why it is so important to get physical therapy after an attack.

Steroids to Treat MS Attacks

Steroids to Treat MS Attacks



* Disclaimer: The information you find here in MS Frontiers Multiple Sclerosis Support is based on what has worked for some of us with MS. No one solution or medication works for everyone, so the suggestions and information you find on this site should not take the place of your doctor.