Multiple sclerosis, or MS, is a disease of the central nervous system (CNS), meaning it affects the brain as well as the spinal cord. The central nervous system controls all actions performed by the body. When MS alters the myelin coating on the nerves that relay messages to and from the brain, symptoms may start to occur in almost every body part. Here’s a list of the early signs of multiple sclerosis:
About eight out of 10 people experience fatigue in the early stages of MS — one of the most common symptoms of the disease. Fatigue significantly affects the ability to function at work and home, and may be the most protuberant sign in an individual who otherwise has minimal activity limitations.
Some people experience MS lassitude, which is a very serious fatigue that occurs daily and appears to grow worse as time goes on. Most people will describe it as “unlike anything they have ever felt,” according to a report by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society in New York.
Lack of sensation in different parts of the body (numbness) is often one of the initial symptoms that brings people with MS to health experts. Numbness may occur in the body, the face, or the legs and arms, and can affect walking, the ability to hold objects, and chewing as well if it ends up affecting the face. Sometimes the feeling may progress over days or hours, but it eventually subsides on its own.
Tingling is closely related to numbness, in which case one may feel as though the arm, toe, or fingers are falling asleep, yet never really wake up. Just like other MS signs, tingling occurs as a result of distorted nerves relaying unclear signals to the various parts of the body. This sensory phenomenon associated with multiple sclerosis is often referred to as “MS hug” by medical professionals.
4. Coordination and Balance Problems
Movement problems are one of the first signs that a person could be suffering from MS. Impaired nerve conduction will mean that muscles aren’t able to behave as they should — movement and coordination problems are a surprise.
People report feeling suddenly weak in just one limb, or they may find objects easily slipping out of their hands. If the cerebellum (the part of the brain responsible for controlling balance) ends up damaged, people are prone to falling, and might also be unsteady on their feet.