Being an inflammatory disease of the central nervous system, multiple sclerosis produces a wide range of symptoms, depending upon which part of the CNS white matter has been affected and to what degree. (The central nervous system is the control centre of the body’s functioning and much of its activity is through the white matter.) The symptoms of MS, though many, do not directly imply that the disease has been contracted.
Some of the most commonly observed symptoms include partial or complete blindness, tingling sensations, tremors, partial or complete paralysis of limbs, dizziness, fatigue, electric shock sensations that occur with certain head movements and what is known as the “tight chest band.”
The symptoms of multiple sclerosis may be categorised under the following broad classes:
Visual symptoms, which include optic neuritis i.e. blurred vision, eye pain, blindness, double vision, jerky eye movements, constant under- or over-shooting eye movements, lack of coordination between the two eyes (diplopia).
Motor symptoms, which include muscle weakness, partial to complete paralysis, loss of muscle tone causing stiffness, and even pain and spasticity. Other motor related symptoms include Dysathria, muscle atrophy, problem with the posture (Hyptomia), and the ‘restless leg syndrome,’ which is particularly bothersome at night while trying to sleep.
Multiple sclerosis may also entail certain Sensory symptoms, ranging from partial numbness, tingling sensation, anaesthesia, itching, pain, to even L’Hermittes, that is, feeling an electric shock sensation and a buzzing sensation with a particular movement of the head.
A multiple sclerosis patient may also show certain coordination and balance symptoms, like loss of coordination, tremors, constant under- or overshooting of the limbs, stuttering and slurred speech, nausea, inability to produce rapidly alternating movements.
Bowel, bladder and sexual symptoms include those of urinary urgency or hesitancy, incontinence, erectile dysfunction, anorgasmy, retrograde ejaculation, or constipation.
Other symptoms include depression, fatigue, dementia, long and short term memory problems, and respiratory problems, among others.