A man with MS in Iceland, sitting, with a car park behind him

10/2011, Akureyri, Iceland. In 2008, a severe attack all but paralysed Haukur Dur’s legs, leaving him no choice but to use a wheelchair. It was a difficult period for an active man with a wife and three young kids. For now, a switch to Tysabri seems to have reversed the course of his MS. Haukur recalls being told the drug carried risks, but doesn’t remember exactly what the risk is – only that given his condition at the time, he felt any risk was worth taking. Credit: Fernando Moleres. Published on this website by kind permission of the European Multiple Sclerosis Platform.

Multiple sclerosis is a variable condition and the symptoms depend on which areas of the central nervous system have been affected. There is no set pattern to MS and everyone with MS has a different set of symptoms, which vary from time to time and can change in severity and duration, even in the same person.

There is no typical MS. Most people with MS will experience more than one symptom, and though there are symptoms common to many people, no person would have all of them.

The most common MS symptoms are fatigue, pain, bladder and bowel issues, sexual dysfunction , movement and coordination problems, visual problems and cognition and emotional changes. However, any neurological symptom or sign may be part of a person’s MS.

Some MS symptoms are immediately obvious. Others, such as fatigue, altered sensation, memory and concentration problems, are often hidden symptoms. These can be hard to describe to others, and sometimes family and carers do not understand the effects these have on the person with MS and on employment, social activities and quality of life.

Symptom management is often a mix of drug treatments where possible, combined with physical therapies, such as physiotherapy or occupational therapy, and lifestyle adaptions and supports.