Multiple sclerosis: what are the symptoms?

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Multiple sclerosis: what are the symptoms?
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The diverse symptoms of multiple sclerosis can be difficult to slow down, and can be disruptive to daily life. The first symptoms of this neurological disease often disappear spontaneously within a few days, which makes their identification even more difficult. Here are the 7 main symptoms.

1) Blurred or double vision

Blurred vision or an opaque stain in the centre of the visual field, accompanied by pain when moving the eyes can be signs of optic neuritis, an inflammation of the optic nerve. These signs can appear over a period of a few hours. In 20% of cases of multiple sclerosis, optic neuritis is the first sign of the disease. It arises over the course of the illness in 75% of cases. People can also experience double vision or shaky vision.

2) Pins and needles

The sensations of “pins and needles” in the legs, numbness in the hands and feet, burning or electric shock sensations in the arms, the neck or the legs are generally signs of myelitis, an inflammation of the spinal cord.

Myelitis is the first sign of multiple sclerosis in 25% of cases, and it appears during the course of the illness in over 75% of cases. 


3) Heavy legs

The feeling of walking as if in space, the sensation of heaviness, or heavy and stiff legs (leading to difficulties with walking long distances) are signs of breakdown of the nerves and may signal multiple sclerosis. This breakdown leads to a difficulty with contracting the muscles and makes walking difficult.

4) Balance problems

A person suffering from multiple sclerosis may notice that they are off balance when they walk, leaning more to one side than the other. Generally, the person will prefer to keep their legs slightly apart when they are standing. They may notice that other actions also become awkward, and their handwriting often suffers.

5) Frequent urinary urges

Frequent urges to urinate, often in small quantities, are one of the first signs of multiple sclerosis, although these are often mistaken for urinary tract infections.

6) Intense and long lasting fatigue

Two thirds of patients affected by multiple sclerosis experience intense, varied and long lasting fatigue at some time or other, which limits them in their personal and professional lives. It can lead to difficulties with starting or maintaining activities.

7) Concentration difficulties

From the onset of the disease, concentration difficulties can appear and can disrupt academic or professional pursuits.

Other, more rare, symptoms can appear, such as episodes of uncontrolled movements in a limb or difficulties with speaking.