Multiple sclerosis: Signs, symptoms and the life you can still live


Of course, when it comes to the diagnosis of a life-long chronic condition, many emotions can justifiably arise and important questions come up.

“How did I get it?”

“Can I still do my favorite activities?”

“Will this shorten my life expectancy?”

In terms of multiple sclerosis (MS), a rare condition, but one with more than 1 million people in the United States living with it, the diagnosis comes with some misconceptions.

Early symptoms of multiple sclerosis

MS is a disease in which the protective sheath of the central nervous system (myelin) is attacked by the immune system. Damaging the covering and compromising the nerve fibers, the brain’s ability to communicate with the body with affected.

“MS is not typically a sudden-onset disease,” said Dr. Alex Steinbock, a neurologist with McLaren Macomb. “Symptoms will slowly begin to show and continue to progress. These early symptoms may seem harmless, making it vital for those living with MS risk factors to pay close attention to potential symptoms.”

Early symptoms of MS

  • Vision problems
  • Tingling/Numbness
  • Balance/Dizziness issues
  • Unexplained pain/spasms
  • Weakness/Fatigue
  • Incontinence
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Cognitive problems

Risk factors for MS

  • Age (20 to 40)
  • Sex (women are more likely afflicted)
  • Family history (especially parents or siblings)
  • Previous infections and certain autoimmune disease
  • Climate (temperate climates)
  • Race (Caucasians with northern European lineage are at higher risk)

Treatments and living with multiple sclerosis

It is very possible to live your life with multiple sclerosis with limited impact from a diagnosis.

Depending on the severity of the case, MS can progress to the following symptoms:

  • Muscle stiffness
  • Muscle spasms
  • Paralysis in legs
  • Bladder complications
  • Forgetfulness
  • Mood swings
  • Depression

“It is very dependent on the severity of a case,” Dr. Steinbock said, “but many patients can expect to still live a fulfilling life with a limited impact from their diagnosis.”

While there is no cure for MS that can reverse the damage done to the myelin, treatments include medications focused on managing patients’ symptoms and slowing its progression.

Additionally, physical activity and physical therapy can aid in easing symptoms and maintaining motor functions.