Multiple sclerosis: Signs, symptoms and who’s at risk

Archive, February, Month

The unpredictable neurological disease begins showing signs in your 20s.

The exact cause of multiple sclerosis, MS, isn’t known, but the neurological disease affecting the central nervous system can begin to show signs in someone as early as their early 20s.

MS is an unpredictable condition in which an abnormal response by the immune system attacks the brain, spinal cords and/or optic nerves, disrupting the flow of information from the brain to the rest of the body.

“The signs and symptoms can be almost anything,” said Dr. Alex Steinbock, a McLaren Macomb neurologist. “The most common is fatigue, but people and patients describe problems with walking, numbness and tingling in their arms and legs. Vision problems is also oftentimes the very first symptom.”

Treatments exist that can address the symptoms, and medications can help slow the progression of the disease and even correct the abnormality of the immune system.

“Each individual experiences this disease individually,” Dr. Steinbock said. “People are living long, fuller lives, particularly with early detection and earlier start to treatment.”

He urges everyone to be mindful of potential symptoms — fatigue, weakness, double vision and changes to the body’s motor functions — and MS risk factors.

MS risk factors

  • Age
    Symptoms are most likely to appear between ages 20 to 40.
  • Sex
    Women are more likely to develop MS.
  • Family history
    Relatives with MS increases the likelihood of it developing.
  • Smoking
    Smokers are more likely to develop MS.
  • Medical history
    Having had certain illnesses or diseases increases the likelihood of MS developing. Talk to your primary care physician.


McLaren Macomb Neurology

Learn more about neurological care at McLaren Macomb.

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Multiple sclerosis podcast

Listen as Dr. Alex Steinbock discusses multiple sclerosis on the In Good Health Podcast.

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