- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune condition where the immune system starts attacking healthy cells, leading to nerve damage. Actress Christina Applegate revealed her MS diagnosis on her birthday in 2021. "Yup. I turned 50 today. And I have MS," Applegate said. "It's been a hard one. Sending so much love to all of you this day. Many are hurting today, and I am thinking of you. May we find that strength to lift our heads up. Mine currently is on my pillow. But I try." Here are five symptoms of multiple sclerosis, according to experts. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
Vision impairment is one of the earliest symptoms of MS. "Optic neuritis (inflammation of the optic nerve) is a very common and frequently an early presentation of multiple sclerosis," says neuro-ophthalmologist and orbital surgeon Dr. Swaraj Bose. "About 25% of MS patients first present with optic neuritis. Typically there is sudden blurriness or loss of vision in the affected eye with pain or discomfort exaggerated on eye movements. The vision loss progresses in the first week, and then gradually improves in the next few weeks in most patients. Sudden onset of double vision is another finding in MS. In this condition the patient usually complains of double vision with both eyes open and the separation of the images is usually horizontal."
Fatigue is another very common symptom of MS, occurring in up to 80% of people. "Unusual fatigue is often the first major red flag that something is wrong," says Dr. Anthony Komaroff, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.
People with MS may have issues with walking, due to issues such as nerve damage and muscle weakness. "Gait problems in MS are all over the map," says physical therapist Sue Kushner. "This makes walking problems difficult to address."
Tingling In Arms and Legs
Tingling in arms and legs—known as paresthesia—is a symptom of MS, experts say. "The symptoms of multiple sclerosis depend on which particular pathway of nerve fiber is damaged," says UCSF Health. "Tingling, numbness, sensations of tightness or weakness may result when myelin in the spinal cord is damaged. Because MS can cause a wide variety of symptoms in different people, doctors often struggle to diagnose the disease. However, common symptoms of MS include changes in sensation or sensory symptoms such as tingling and numbness, and changes in muscle function or motor symptoms such as difficulty walking, stiffness or tremors."
Having trouble with balance—called ataxia—cis a sign of MS and can lead to injuries. "Balance is a complex system," said Susan Bennett, PT, DPT, NCS. "When it doesn't work effectively, a comprehensive examination by a physical therapist should be performed. The examination includes evaluation of muscle strength, spasticity or stiffness of the muscles, and the specialized balance system consisting of vision, inner ear and sensation in the legs. it is important to identify the underlying problems so the best rehabilitation can be initiated."