The most common MS symptoms

Learn about the most common symptoms of MS
Most Common MS Symptoms

Success

This has been added to your Favorites

As multiple sclerosis (MS) attacks the nerves, it can lead to a variety of symptoms. These symptoms, and their severity, can be different from person to person, and the ones you experience can change over time. You may also have some symptoms that are not mentioned below. The symptoms below appear to be the most common ones.

It’s also important to keep in mind that having one or more of these symptoms does not mean that you have MS. Only a healthcare provider can diagnose MS, so be sure to discuss your symptoms with him or her.

Common MS symptoms may include:

Cognitive difficulties

Many people with MS have problems with cognition. Symptoms may include memory loss, attention and concentration issues, difficulty processing information, trouble planning and prioritizing, and verbal fluency issues (like word recall).

Vision problems

People with MS may experience problems with their eyes. This happens because the optic nerve can become inflamed, or other related nerves can be damaged, resulting in potential blurred vision, loss of normal color vision, blindness in one eye, a dark spot in the field of vision, double vision, and uncontrolled eye movements or “jumping vision.”

Fatigue

People with MS may become more easily worn out after physical activity than usual. In addition to experiencing physical fatigue from doing simple things, people with MS may also experience mental fatigue from depression. There is also a type of fatigue called “lassitude” or “MS fatigue” that many believe to be unique to people with MS, which is generally more severe than normal fatigue. This type of fatigue may happen almost every day and could start early in the morning after a good night’s sleep. Lassitude also often worsens with heat and humidity.

Heat sensitivity

High temperatures make it harder than it already is for demyelinated nerve cells to conduct electrical signals. Because of this, many people with MS may experience a temporary worsening of MS symptoms when exposed to heat or dealing with a fever. Symptoms caused by heat are typically temporary and do not cause further damage to the nerves. Once the temperature cools, even by a small amount, the symptoms usually subside.

Bowel and bladder problems

Problems with your bowel and bladder can happen because MS lesions may block or delay nerve signals in parts of the central nervous system that control the bowel, bladder and urinary muscles. Symptoms of bladder dysfunction may include incontinence; having to urinate frequently, urgently, or at night (nocturia); and the inability to empty your bladder completely. Bowel problems may include constipation and diarrhea.

Sexual issues

The nerve damage caused by MS may lead to issues with sexual function. This means sexual response—including arousal and orgasm—can be directly affected. Men may experience difficulty achieving or maintaining an erection, and reduced sensation or difficulty achieving ejaculation. Women may experience reduced sensation, painfully heightened sensation, or vaginal dryness. Sexual issues may also stem from other MS symptoms such as fatigue or spasticity, as well as from psychological factors relating to self-esteem and mood changes.

Pain

People with MS may feel things like sharp stabbing facial pain. Burning, aching, and tingling “pins and needles” are also common around the body. Chronic back and musculoskeletal pain may be experienced as a result of walking problems and/or muscle spasticity. If you’re experiencing pain, it’s important to identify its source with the help of your healthcare provider.

Motor problems

Because MS can damage the nerves in the spinal cord and brain, your muscles may become weak and ineffective. Stiff muscles and spasms, or sudden involuntary movements, also known as spasticity, are common. Trouble with walking is also common in people with MS. Many people with MS may also experience some degree of tremor, or uncontrollable shaking, which can occur in various parts of the body. Always talk to your healthcare provider if you are experiencing any pain or motor problems.

At any point in your treatment, it’s always helpful to communicate with your healthcare provider about your symptoms. Our Symptom Discussion Guide can help. Download this tool and find a variety of questions that can help you:

  • Think about how you’ve been feeling
  • Take an inventory of your recent symptoms
  • Have a conversation with your healthcare provider about your MS

You can learn more about these MS symptoms here.

EXPLORE OTHER TOPICS

MRI Tools and Technology
MS Education

Biogen partners with Siemens Healthineers

From Biogen

Road Trip
Home & Travel

10 tips for traveling with MS

From Paul P.

Avoiding holiday stress for people living with MS
Daily life with MS

4 ways to help avoid holiday stress

From Gina F.

FOLLOW US

Stay up-to-date with Above MS—like us on Facebook

From Biogen

Maintaining Mindfulness at Work
Mental & emotional health

Maintaining mindfulness at work

From Biogen

Alt –Ways to Stay Active for People Living With MS
Exercise & fitness

6 ways to help stay active

From Herb L.

Daily life with MS

A care partner’s perspective

From James T.

Daily life with MS

A day in the life of MS

From Julie D.

Female Nurse on Phone
ABOVE MS PROGRAM

Access to Nurse Educators

From Biogen

Daily life with MS

Accessorizing while living with MS

From Gina F.

African Americans & MS
MS Education

MS among African Americans

From Dr. Williams

Daily Exercise Promotes a Healthier Lifestyle
Exercise & fitness

4 tips on aging with MS

From Herb L.

Healthy Recipes – Almond Energy Bites
Recipes

Almond energy bites

Snack

From Jessica T.

MS contributor discusses her first year with MS
DIAGNOSIS

An MS diagnosis at 25

From Chelsey B.

Healthy Recipes – Egg & Avocado Toast
Recipes

Avocado toast

Breakfast

From Jessica C.

Healthy Recipes – Baked Falafel
Recipes

Baked falafel

Entrée

From Jessica C.

Healthy Recipes – Banana Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies
Recipes

Banana oatmeal breakfast cookies

Breakfast

From Beth P.

Manage Stress From MS With Yoga
Exercise & fitness

Basic yoga exercises

From Donna I.

Home & Travel

Bathroom modifications for people living with MS

From Dr. Kalina

Home & Travel

Bedroom modifications for people living with MS

From Dr. Kalina

Healthy Recipes – Beet & red lentil hummus
Recipes

Beet & red lentil hummus

Snack

From Jessica C.

Woman Sitting at Desk
About MS Treatment

Being your own best advocate

From Biogen

Benefits of owning a pet
Mental & emotional health

The benefits of living with a pet

From Biogen

Healthy Recipes – Buffalo Cauliflower
Recipes

Buffalo cauliflower

Snack

From Gina F.

Relationships & Support

Building relationships while living with MS

From Stephanie B.

Celebrating Life While Living With MS
Mental & emotional health

Celebrating life with MS

From Stephanie G.

MS Education

Clinical trials 101

From Biogen

Clinically isolated Syndrome and MS
MS Education

Clinically isolated syndrome (CIS)

From Biogen

Home & Travel

Commuting to work

From Jessica T.

People at a Support Group
Relationships & Support

Connect with MS organizations

From Biogen

Doctor Talking With Patient
Your MS Healthcare Team

Connecting your team

From Biogen

Counseling as an Option for People Living With MS
Your MS Healthcare Team

Counseling as an option

From Jessica T.

Intimacy & MS
Relationships & Support

Dating with MS

From Ann Marie J.

How to Deal with MS Diagnosis
DIAGNOSIS

Dealing with your MS diagnosis

From Shari S.

Writing in Calendar
Mental & emotional health

Dealing with memory problems

From Biogen

Living with MS may mean realizing your limits
Daily life with MS

Defining my limits

From Robyn F.

Diagnosing Multiple Sclerosis
DIAGNOSIS

Diagnosing MS: What you may expect

From Dr. Coyle

Diets for MS
Diet & nutrition

Diets & supplements to consider

From Dr. Williams

Dining Out With MS
Diet & nutrition

Dining out made easier

From Biogen

Work & Finances

Disclosing MS during interviews

From Maureen K.

Manage Stress From MS With Yoga
Exercise & fitness

Discover potential benefits of yoga

From Biogen

How Disease Modifying Treatments (DMTs) May Help
About MS Treatment

How disease modifying treatments may help

From Dr. Bowen

Encouragement if You’re Newly Diagnosed
DIAGNOSIS

Encouragement if you’re newly diagnosed

From Biogen

Entertaining Guests If You’re Living With MS
Home & Travel

Entertaining guests in your home

From Gina F.

Daily life with MS

Fashion tips for people living with MS

From Gina F.

Financial and Estate Planning for People Living With MS
Work & Finances

Financial & estate planning

From Marty S.

Man talking into microphone
Live MS events & webinars

Want to know more about MS? Check out a live MS event or webinar! ...more

From Biogen

Mental & emotional health

Finding your silver lining

From Biogen

Discuss treatment options with your doctor
About MS Treatment

Finding the right treatment

From Biogen

Healthy Recipes – Fruit Crisp Pie
Recipes

Fruit crisp pie

Dessert

From Gina F.

Understanding your MS
MS Education

Watch this webinar to learn from MS expert Dr. Weigel

From Biogen

Woman on Phone and Tablet
ABOVE MS PROGRAM

Getting financial & insurance support

From Biogen

Disease modifying therapies (DMTs) may slow physical disability progression
About MS Treatment

Goal of DMTs

From Biogen

Healthy Recipes – Grandma’s Date Treats
Recipes

Grandma’s date treats

Snack

From Stephanie G.

Recipes

Grilled salmon with spinach & red onions

Entrée

From Charlie “Justice” B.

People at Conference Table
Work & Finances

HR perspective on disclosing MS

From Colleen L.

Woman looking on thoughtfully
Mental & emotional health

Using positivity to overcome stigma

From Robyn F.

Charlie "Justice" B. discusses explaining MS to his kids
Relationships & support

Having the MS talk with your kids

From Charlie “Justice” B.

Health Insurance & MS
About MS Treatment

Health insurance & MS

From Biogen

Healthy Recipes - Cajun jambalaya pasta
Recipes

Cajun jambalaya pasta

Entrée

From Charlie “Justice” B.

Homemade hummus with chickpeas
Recipes

Homemade hummus

Snack

From Kellie T.

Woman Looking Through Phone
ABOVE MS PROGRAM

Help from Support Coordinators

From Biogen

Humor and MS
Mental & emotional health

How humor may be beneficial

From Paul P.

Radiologist Looking at MRI
MS Education

How MS may affect the body

From Biogen

How MS affects the immune system
MS Education

The immune system & MS

From Biogen

Stethoscope and Report
DIAGNOSIS

How MS is diagnosed

From Biogen

Woman Sitting on Beach
Mental & emotional health

How meditation may help

From Biogen

Mental & emotional health

How spiritual wellness may help

From Mary Kay F.

Group of people going hiking
Mental & emotional health

Staying motivated with MS

From Charlie “Justice” B.

How to show you care
Relationships & support

3 ways to show you care

From Cat S.

Above MS contributor
About MS Treatment

I wish I knew

From our Expert Contributors

Daily life with MS

Importance of sleep

From Maureen K.

Support Groups for People Living With MS
Daily life with MS

Importance of support groups

From Ann Marie J.

The importance of treating MS early
About MS Treatment

The importance of treating early

From Biogen

Relationships & Support

Intimacy & MS

From Dr. Tufeld

Healthy Recipes – Jersey’s Bruschetta
Recipes

Jersey’s bruschetta

Snack

From Stephanie G.

Healthy Recipes – Kale Chips
Recipes

Kale chips

Snack

From Gina F.

Keep Your Brain Active with Brain Games
Mental & emotional health

8 ways to keep your brain engaged

From Biogen

Physical Therapist Adjusting Patient’s Knee
Your MS Healthcare Team

Key members of your support team

From Biogen

Home & Travel

Kitchen modifications for people living with MS

From Dr. Kalina

MS Ambassadors discusses how to take on MS with a positive attitude
Mental & emotional health

More than MS

From Biogen

Contributor Charlie “Justice” B. discusses traveling with MS
Daily life with MS

Living a fulfilling life with MS

From Charlie “Justice” B.

Contributor Charlie "Justice" B. discusses traveling with MS
Mental & emotional health

Living a fulfilling life with MS

From Charlie “Justice” B.

Mental & emotional health

Maintaining a positive outlook

From Biogen

MS Doctor Visits
Your MS Healthcare Team

Making the most of your MS doctor appointments

From Dr. Weigel

Fruit Salad
Diet & nutrition

Making changes to your diet

From Biogen

Using a phone calendar
Your MS Healthcare Team

Making the most of visits with your healthcare team

From Robyn F.

Meal Planning for the Week Ahead
Diet & nutrition

Meal planning for the week ahead

From Judy B.

Modifying Routines With MS
DAILY LIFE WITH MS

Modifying routines with MS

From Kellie T.

MRIs help monitor disease activity
MS EDUCATION

Monitoring disease activity

From Biogen

Woman reading subway map
Home & Travel

Getting around with MS

From Biogen

Navigating the Grocery Store
Diet & nutrition

Navigating grocery stores

From Judy B.

MS Occupational Therapy
Your MS Healthcare Team

Occupational therapy & MS

From Dr. Kalina

Healthy Recipes – One-Pot Greek Manestra
Recipes

One-pot Greek manestra

Entrée

From Cat S.

Technology and Living with MS
Daily life with MS

Using technology to your advantage

From Biogen

Healthy Recipes – Overnight Oats
Recipes

Overnight oats

Breakfast

From Judy B.

Relationships & Support

Parenting with MS

From Robyn F.

Healthy Recipes – Pasta puttanesca
Recipes

Pasta puttanesca

Entrée

From Judy B.

Personal Experiences With MS at Work
Work & Finances

Personal experiences at work

From Karen B.

Physical Therapy and MS
Your MS Healthcare Team

Physical therapy & MS

From Nancy D.

Pilates Exercises for People Living With MS
Exercise & fitness

Pilates for beginners

From Jessica T.

Plan your night out
Home & Travel

Getting ready for your next event

From Biogen

Healthy Recipes – Power Smoothie
Recipes

Power smoothie

Breakfast

From Stephanie G.

Healthy Recipes – Power-Up Oatmeal
Recipes

Power-up oatmeal

Breakfast

From Gina F.

Pregnancy and Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
MS Education

Pregnancy & MS

From Jessica T.

Woman Talking to Psychologist
Your MS Healthcare Team

Psychological support

From Biogen

Relationships & support

A Q&A about love & MS

From Jessica T.

Healthy Recipes – Ratatouille
Recipes

Ratatouille

Entrée

From Cat S.

Reading Nutrition Labels for People Living With MS
Diet & nutrition

Reading nutrition labels

From Jessica C.

5 Common Responses for People Living With Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
Relationships & Support

Responding to 5 common MS comments

From Shari S.

Contributor Jessica T. running errands in her car
Home & Travel

Running errands with MS

From Jessica T.

MS Education

Science behind making an MS drug

From Dr. Mi

Zumba Exercises for People with MS
Exercise & fitness

Zumba exercises with Nancy D.

From Nancy D.

Healthy Recipes – Shrimp pasta with a twist
Recipes

Shrimp pasta with a twist

Entrée

From Gina F.

Four Friends Hugging
ABOVE MS PROGRAM

Sign up today

From Biogen

Healthy Recipes – Slow Cooker Dill Salmon
Recipes

Slow-cooker dill salmon

Entrée

From Stephanie G.

Stationary Cardio for People with MS
Exercise & fitness

Stationary cardio with Nancy D.

From Nancy D.

Healthy Foods for People Living With MS
Diet & nutrition

Stocking a healthy kitchen

From Biogen

Stretching Exercises for People with MS
Exercise & fitness

Stretching exercises with Nancy D.

From Nancy D.

Brain Games – Sudoku
Brain Games

Sudoku

From Biogen

Support Coordinator
ABOVE MS PROGRAM

Q&A with a Support Coordinator

From Shantavia C.

MS Support From Your Children
Relationships & Support

Support from my 8-year-old

From James T.

Relationships & Support

Support partners: the unsung heroes

From Cat S.

Healthy Recipes – Sweet Potato Nachos
Recipes

Sweet potato nachos

Snack

From Judy B.

Healthy Recipes – Deconstructed Taco Salad
Recipes

Deconstructed taco salad

Entrée

From Jessica C.

Mental & emotional health

Taking charge of my MS

From April M.

Person reaching for medication
About MS Treatment

Taking your relapsing MS medication

From Jessica T.

Taking an Active Approach to MS
Your MS Healthcare Team

Taking an active approach

From Maureen K.

Disclosing MS at work
Work & Finances

Telling your employer about your MS

From Colleen L.

Aby MS Support App
ABY MS APP

Download Biogen’s app to support your MS journey

From Biogen

Relationships & Support

The importance of being a good communicator

From Mary Kay F.

MS and Memory Issues
Mental & emotional health

Tips if you’re dealing with memory issues

From Paul P.

Aquatic Exercise for People Living With MS
Exercise & fitness

Tips for aquatic exercise

From Sheryl S.

Getting the sleep you need
Daily life with MS

6 tips for getting a good night’s rest

From Biogen

Daily life with MS

Tips for going to events & gatherings

From Jessica T.

Tips for Staying on Track for People Living With MS
About MS Treatment

Tips for staying on track

From Biogen

Tips For Talking With Your Doctor
Your MS Healthcare Team

Tips for talking with your doctor

From Biogen

Air Travel With MS
Home & Travel

Tips for traveling by air

From Gina F.

Kitchen Tips for People Living With MS
Home & Travel

Tips for the kitchen

From Biogen

Healthy Recipes – Tofu steaks and vegetables
Recipes

Tofu steaks & vegetables

Entrée

From Cat S.

Tools & Games for People Living With MS
Mental & emotional health

Tools & games for your mind

From Biogen

Person Assisting Man With Knee Brace
Home & Travel

Tools that may help with your mobility

From Biogen

Patient Talking With Doctor
MS Education

Types of MS

From Biogen

Doctor Reviewing Reports With Patient
About MS Treatment

Types of relapsing MS treatments

From Dr. Tufeld

Doctor Reviewing MRI
DIAGNOSIS

Understanding MRIs

From Biogen

Woman looking out
MS Education

Understanding relapsing MS

From Biogen

Upper-Body Workouts for MS
Exercise & fitness

Upper-body workouts for MS

From Biogen

Healthy Recipes – Vegan Banana Ice Cream
Recipes

Vegan banana ice cream

Dessert

From Jessica C.

Mental & emotional health

360° approach to wellness

From Beth P.

What are lesions and how do they affect MS symptoms?
MS Education

Understanding lesions

From Biogen

Relapsing MS Treatment Expectations
About MS Treatment

What you may expect from treatment

From Dr. Coyle

Healthy Recipes – White Chicken Chili
Recipes

White chicken chili

Entrée

From Jessica T.

Who Gets MS
MS EDUCATION

Who gets MS?

From Biogen

Man Thinking
Mental & emotional health

Why mental exercise may help

From Biogen

Working With Your MS Nurse
Your MS Healthcare Team

Working with your MS nurse

From Dr. Weigel

Working with MS
Work & Finances

Adjusting your work environment for your MS

From Stephanie G.

Mental & emotional health

You are beautiful

From Charlie “Justice” B.

Daily life with MS

Your care partner & you

From Biogen

Accounting Ledger
Work & Finances

Your finances & MS

From Biogen

Brain Games – Crossword Puzzles
Brain Games

Crossword

From Biogen

Brain Games – Flipout
Brain Games

Flipout

From Biogen

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE

MS Symptoms

Symptom Series: Bladder & bowel dysfunction

From Biogen

MS Ambassador Holly M. talks about MS resources and support
MS Symptoms

Honestly MS: Feeling alone with MS

From Biogen

RECIPES

See what delicious recipes people with MS are whipping up—start exploring

From Biogen