Early Warning Signs of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) - Crozer-Keystone Health System - PA

Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

  • Early Warning Signs of Multiple Sclerosis

Early Warning Signs of Multiple Sclerosis

Early Signs of MSMultiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic disease that can affect your brain, spinal cord and the optic nerves in your eyes. This disease is one of the most common causes of non-traumatic disability among young and middle-aged adults.

However, a multiple sclerosis diagnosis no longer means you’ll inevitably develop disabilities – there are therapies available that slow the progression of the disease. For this reason, it’s crucial to identify and diagnose MS early – finding it and beginning treatment in its early stages can limit the impact of this potentially devastating disease.

Prompt treatment after your first MS symptoms reduces on how many times symptoms come back. Additionally, people who take medication for MS early are less likely to have a disability compared to those who don’t take MS medicine.

What’s important to know about early signs of multiple sclerosis is that they can be as dramatic as initial paralysis or much more subtle, like numbness in an arm or leg that doesn’t go away when you try to shake it out, or a sudden blind spot or blurry vision in one eye. Symptoms can vary and come and go. You could experience one symptom and then, months or years later, experience a different one.

Early Signs of MS

In order to identify MS early, it’s important to understand the disease’s early warning signs. Here are the most common early warning signs of multiple sclerosis.

1. Strange Sensations

One of the most common symptoms of MS may be unusual sensations around your body. These sensations can include:

  • Numbness, especially in your face
  • Tingling
  • Severe itching
  • A feeling of tightness or swelling
  • An electric shock-type feeling when you move your head or neck, potentially radiating down your spine in your arms or legs

2. Vision Issues

Many people report the first symptom of MS they experience involves their eyes. Oftentimes, the disease causes optic neuritis – a condition that damages the nerve connecting the eye to the brain. This condition typically impacts one eye, but in some rare cases it affects both.

Symptoms of optic neuritis consist of pain in the eye, especially when you move it, blurry vision, and colors that appear dull. Double vision and involuntary eye movements have also been linked to MS.

3. Problems with Walking

Multiple sclerosis can lead to impaired coordination, making it difficult to walk. Early signs of this symptom include trouble keeping your balance or trouble walking with your usual gait.

4. Fatigue

A common early symptom of MS is extreme fatigue. People with MS often report feeling exhausted even if they haven’t been very active or feel tired as soon as they wake up in the morning.

5. Heat-related Issues

When you have MS and try to exercise, you may get tired and weak as soon as your body gets warm. Additionally, you may find it hard to control certain body parts when you’re warmed up, especially one of your feet or legs. Resting and cooling down typically causes these symptoms to go away.

Depending on which part of your nervous system is affected by the disease, other early symptoms may include trouble thinking clearly, general pain, vertigo, depression, or bladder or bowel problems.

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