MS Symptoms: The interactive body

You can experience a wide range of symptoms when living with multiple sclerosis (MS). Some may be easy for others to see, such as problems with walking, but many symptoms are invisible to others, including problems with fatigue and pain. Although there are many symptoms, the condition is highly unique to each individual and it’s likely you’ll only experience some of them and at varying levels of intensity.

How to use the interactive body

Click each symptom on the body to learn more about the impact it may have and how you can best manage it. If you’d prefer to view the symptoms in a list, simply click "View as list".

MS can cause problems with memory and thinking, but if you experience these symptoms, it’s likely that symptoms will be mild. These problems can make it harder to concentrate, multitask, and they can make it difficult to learn new things.

There are things you can do to help you cope with memory and thinking problems. Explore tips and advice for managing your cognitive problems, including advice from Charlotte who lives with MS.

Living with MS, you may experience problems with your eyesight such as double-vision or involuntary eye movements. It’s important to bear in mind that although this can be a frightening experience, most recover from these problems.

Read more about the effect of MS on vision and talk to your doctor if you have any concerns.

Living with MS, it’s not unusual to experience problems with speech or swallowing. You may only experience these problems for a few minutes at a time throughout the day, or during a relapse. Many people find ways of working through them and speech therapists can also offer advice and support if you’re having problems with your speech.

If you experience speech or swallowing problems, even if they’re mild, they may be frustrating or affect your confidence. Find out how to manage speech and swallowing problems to limit the impact they have on your quality of life.

Although you may not experience any bladder problems, they are common in MS – so if you do experience any, you’re not alone! Talking to your doctor or MS nurse should be the first step you take if you’re having bladder problems and can help put your mind at ease. They are used to talking about these issues and can give you tips to help keep things under control.

Explore how your bladder might be affected by your MS and how you can manage these problems to improve your quality of life.

You may experience muscle spasms and stiffness while living with MS, sometimes making daily activities uncomfortable and painful. These symptoms may also make sleeping difficult. If you experience any spasms or stiffness, it’s important to let your doctor or MS nurse know as soon as possible so they can help you recognise the triggers that make you feel most uncomfortable.

Read more about spasms and stiffness and how they can be managed.

 

A tremor is a rhythmical shaking that you cannot control. You may experience very mild tremors or more pronounced ones when living with MS that can make everyday tasks difficult and cause distress.

Problems with tremors can be managed in different ways depending on your needs—everyone is different, so it’s important that you tell your MS team about your symptoms.

Muscle weakness is common when living with MS and is often accompanied by fatigue. It can cause other symptoms such as balance issues and may make you worried about falling over. If you are experiencing any muscle weakness, talk to your doctor and MS nurse as they may be able to offer you advice to help you manage your symptoms and improve muscle strength.

Read more about muscle weakness and mobility problems, including why it’s important that you speak up to your neurologist about any muscle weakness you’re experiencing.

There’s a chance you may experience problems with balance. The effects are different for everyone and even though some balance problems may be quite significant, there are ways you can manage them to limit the impact they have on your quality of life.

Read how MS can affect your balance and what you can do to manage it.

You may experience problems with sexual function when living with MS, which could impact your relationships.16 If you feel your MS is affecting your sex life, there are things that can help. It’s important that you discuss any problems you have with your doctor or MS nurse so they can help to find a solution that works for you.

Read more about sexual dysfunction in MS.

Fatigue can be defined as overwhelming tiredness and is one of the most common symptoms of MS. If you are significantly affected by fatigue, there are a number of things you can do to help manage it and minimise its impact on your life.

Find out more about fatigue and how you could be affected.

Affecting a lot of people living with MS, you may experience some pain and discomfort. It varies from person to person, but this can be exhausting and may affect your emotional wellbeing. However, there are some therapies that can help, as well as tips to help you cope with pain and recognise triggers.

Find out how you may be affected by pain, how it could affect your daily life and tips to help you deal with pain if you’re suffering.

Discover more about the monitoring of MS symptoms and its importance to limit the impact of your symptoms on your quality of life.

Fill out your own Talk To Your Doctor Guide to support conversations surrounding symptoms with your neurologist and help you demand more from your life with MS.

  1. Signs and symptoms. MS Society. Available at: https://www.mssociety.org.uk/about-ms/signs-and-symptoms. Last accessed: December 2019.
  2. Mental Health. MS Society. Available at: https://www.mssociety.org.uk/about-ms/signs-and-symptoms/mental-health. Last accessed: December 2019.
  3. Memory and thinking. MS Society. Available at: https://www.mssociety.org.uk/about-ms/signs-and-symptoms/memory-and-thinking. Last accessed: December 2019.
  4. Cognitive problems in MS. MS Society. Available at: https://www.mssociety.org.uk/about-ms/signs-and-symptoms/memory-and-thinking/cognitive-problems-in-ms. Last accessed: December 2019.
  5. Tips for dealing with memory and thinking problems. MS Society. Available at: https://www.mssociety.org.uk/about-ms/signs-and-symptoms/memory-and-thinking/tips-for-dealing-with-memory-and-thinking-problems. Last accessed: December 2019.
  6. Eyes and sight. MS Society. Available at: https://www.mssociety.org.uk/about-ms/signs-and-symptoms/eyes-and-sight. Last accessed: December 2019.
  7. Swallowing. MS Society. Available at: https://www.mssociety.org.uk/about-ms/signs-and-symptoms/swallowing. Last accessed: December 2019.
  8. Speech problems in MS. MS Society. Available at: https://www.mssociety.org.uk/about-ms/signs-and-symptoms/speech/about-speech-problems. Last accessed: December 2019.
  9. Bladder. MS Society. Available at: https://www.mssociety.org.uk/about-ms/signs-and-symptoms/bladder Accessed May 2018.
  10. Managing bladder problems. MS Society. Available at: https://www.mssociety.org.uk/about-ms/signs-and-symptoms/bladder/managing-bladder-problems. Last accessed: December 2019.
  11. Understanding spasms and stiffness. MS Society. Available at: https://www.mssociety.org.uk/about-ms/signs-and-symptoms/spasms-and-stiffness/understanding-spasms-and-stiffness. Last accessed: December 2019.
  12. Treating spasms and stiffness. MS Society. Available at: https://www.mssociety.org.uk/about-ms/signs-and-symptoms/spasms-and-stiffness/treating-spasms-and-stiffness. Last accessed: December 2019.
  13. Tremor. MS Society. Available at: https://www.mssociety.org.uk/about-ms/signs-and-symptoms/tremor. Last accessed: December 2019.
  14. Weakness. MS Trust. Available at: https://www.mstrust.org.uk/a-z/weakness. Last accessed: December 2019.
  15. Balance, walking and dizziness. MS Society. Available at: https://www.mssociety.org.uk/about-ms/signs-and-symptoms/balance-and-dizziness. Last accessed: December 2019.
  16. Sex and relationship problems. MS Society. Available at: https://www.mssociety.org.uk/about-ms/signs-and-symptoms/sex-and-relationships/sex-and-relationship-problems. Last accessed: October 2017.
  17. Fatigue. MS Society. Available at: https://www.mssociety.org.uk/about-ms/signs-and-symptoms/fatigue. Last accessed: December 2019.
  18. Pain. MS Society. Available at: https://www.mssociety.org.uk/about-ms/signs-and-symptoms/pain. Last accessed: December 2019.

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