Introduction to symptoms

Multiple sclerosis is a very 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, bowel and sexual dysfunction , movement, weakness and balance problems , visual and sensation problems and cognition and mood changes , but any neurological symptom or sign may be part of a person's MS.

While some MS symptoms are immediately obvious, others such as fatigue, altered sensation, memory and concentration problems are often hidden symptoms. These can be difficult 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.

Find out more in our publication MS in focus, which looks in detail at the main symptoms of MS, as well as other MS related topics.