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Early symptomsCommon early symptoms of MS include:Muscle or motor symptoms, such as weakness, leg dragging, stiffness, a tendency to drop things, a feeling of heaviness, clumsiness, or a lack of coordination (ataxia). Visual symptoms, such as blurred, foggy, or hazy vision, eyeball pain (especially when you move your eyes), blindness, or double vision. Optic neuritis-sudden loss of vision that is often painful-is a fairly common first symptom. It occurs in up to 25 out of 100 people who have MS.

Sensory symptoms, such as tingling, a pins-and-needles sensation, numbness, a band of tightness around the trunk or legs, or electrical sensations moving down the back and legs. Advanced symptomsAs MS progresses, symptoms may become more severe and may include:Worse muscle problems, and stiff, mechanical movements (spasticity) or uncontrollable shaking (tremor).

These problems may make walking difficult. A wheelchair may be needed some or all of the time. Pain and other sensory symptoms. Bladder symptoms, such as an inability to hold urine (urinary incontinence) or to completely empty the bladder, or a loss of bladder sensation. Constipation and other bowel disorders. Cognitive and emotional problems. These are common in people who have had MS for some time.

Feeling very tired (fatigue). This can be worse if symptoms such as pain, spasticity, bladder problems, anxiety, or depression make it hard to sleep.

What HappensIn general, multiple sclerosis follows one of four courses:Relapsing-remitting, where symptoms may fade and then recur at random for many years. The disease doesn't advance during the remissions.

Most people who develop MS have a relapsing-remitting course. In 8 to 9 out of 10 people with this course of MS, the relapsing-remitting phase lasts about 20 years.

Later on, it becomes steadily progressive. Symptoms appear and disappear, but nerve damage continues. Few people have this course of MS. MS is different for every person. Progress of MSMS usually progresses with a series of relapses that occur over many years (relapsing-remitting MS).

Events that can mean you may have a more severe type of MS include:Frequent relapses during the first few years of the disease. Incomplete recovery between attacks.

Early, lasting motor problems that affect movement. Many lesions that show up on an MRI early in the disease. Some people have a few mild attacks from which they recover entirely. Complications of MSComplications that may result from MS include:Urinary tract infections (UTIs).

Reduced ability to move and walk. This makes it necessary to use a wheelchair some or all of the time. What Increases Your RiskYour risk for multiple sclerosis (MS) increases with:Geographic location, or where you lived during childhood (up to age 15). People who spend the first 15 years of their lives in colder climates that are farther away from the equator tend to be more likely to get MS than people who lived closer to the equator during those years.

Family history of MS. About 15 out of 100 people who have MS have a relative with MS, most often a brother or sister. These appear more frequently in people who have MS. This may mean that there are one or more genes that may increase the chance of getting MS. People of Western European ancestry are more likely to get MS. MS is about 3 times as common in women as in men. When should you call your doctor.

Some of the symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS) are similar to those of many other illnesses. See your doctor if over a period of time you have more than one symptom, such as:Blurry, foggy, or hazy vision, eyeball pain, loss of vision, or double vision. A feeling of heaviness or weakness, involuntary leg dragging, stiffness, walking problems, and clumsiness. Inability to hold urine or to completely empty the bladder.

Problems with memory, attention span, finding the right words for what you mean, and daily problem-solving. If you have been diagnosed with MS, see your doctor if:Your attacks become more frequent or severe. You begin having a symptom that you have not had before or you notice a significant change in symptoms that are already present.

Watchful waitingMilder MS-type symptoms can be caused by many other conditions or may occur now and then in healthy people. For people with MSTalk to your doctor about what to expect from the disease and from treatment. Who to seeHealth professionals who may be involved in evaluating symptoms of MS and treating the condition include:Family doctors or general practitioners.

Consult your doctor when symptoms first start. He or she will refer you to a neurologist if needed. If you have MS, your family doctor or general practitioner can treat your general health problems even if you see a neurologist for MS treatment.

A neurologist can decide whether your symptoms are caused by MS. He or she can also help you decide what may be the best treatment for your condition. Many university medical centres and large hospitals have MS clinics or centres staffed by neurologists and other health professionals who specialize in diagnosing and treating MS.

If you have been diagnosed with MS, at some point you may need to seek the help of:A physiotherapist, to assist with exercise to maintain body strength and flexibility and deal with movement problems.

An occupational therapist, to identify ways of accomplishing daily activities if MS has caused any physical limitations. A speech-language pathologist, to improve speech, chewing, and breathing if MS has affected the muscles of the face and throat. A physiatrist, to help with managing pain, maintaining strength, and adapting to physical disability. A psychologist or psychiatrist, to evaluate and treat depression, anxiety or other mood disorders, and problems with memory and concentration if these develop.

A pain management specialist, to help with any significant chronic pain that MS may cause. A pain specialist, often as part of a pain clinic, can help find ways of reducing pain when possible and dealing with pain that doesn't go away.

A neurosurgeon, to do surgery for severe tremors or spasticity. Examinations and TestsDiagnosing multiple sclerosis (MS) isn't always easy and in some cases may take time. Tests to diagnose MSMagnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain and spinal cord. This test is done to confirm a diagnosis of MS. Lumbar puncture (sometimes called a spinal tap). This test may be done to evaluate cerebrospinal fluid.