Early Signs of MS You Shouldn’t Ignore

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) might not be a common disease — according to the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America, roughly only 1 in 1,000 people are affected. Yet for the minority who do develop MS, it poses a significant impact on their central nervous system, often causing disconnection in communication between the brain and other parts of the body.

MS manifests differently in everyone, but there are telltale signs that you should be aware of, says family doctor Natalia Hapych, MD. To increase awareness of this complex neurological condition, Dr. Hapych outlines some of the most common early warning signs of MS.

What is Multiple Sclerosis (MS)?

MS is defined as a chronic disease that affects the central nervous system (CNS), which includes your brain and spinal cord. The CNS serves as the control center for your body’s functions, enabling you to perform daily tasks like walking and talking. In MS, your immune system mistakenly attacks your protective coating around nerve fibers (called myelin) in your CNS, causing communication issues between your brain and the rest of your body.

MS symptoms vary widely in type and severity, depending on the extent of nerve damage. They might progress over time, come and go, or remain steady.

What are the early signs of MS?

Early signs of MS can be subtle and easy to dismiss. The symptoms may vary from person to person and can range from mild to severe,” Dr. Hapych cautions. “It’s crucial to be vigilant and proactive in recognizing the early signs.”

Let’s examine some of these early warning signs.

Numbness or Weakness

MS often starts with the sensation of numbness, tingling, or weakness in one or more limbs, usually on one side of the body. This feeling typically:

  • Begins in the legs and may progress to the arms.
  • Might be accompanied by a “pins and needles” sensation.
  • Could be constant or intermittent.

Dr. Hapych says, “It’s easy to mistake the initial numbness or tingling for a temporary issue, like your foot falling asleep. But if it continues, becomes more frequent, or affects your mobility, it could be an early sign of MS.”


Generally, almost 80% of people with MS experience fatigue. This isn’t just everyday tiredness. MS-related fatigue:

  • Comes on suddenly.
  • Is severe enough to interfere with daily activities.
  • Does not improve with rest.

If you’re feeling constantly exhausted without a clear reason — such as lack of sleep or overexertion — it’s worth bringing up to your doctor,” Dr. Hapych recommends.

Trouble with Coordination

MS can cause difficulties with coordination and balance, which might manifest as:

  • Clumsiness or unsteady gait.
  • Frequent falls.
  • Trouble performing tasks that require fine motor skills.

“Changes in coordination might be subtle in the beginning and become more evident over time,” explains Dr. Hapych.

Vision Problems

In particular, MS can cause inflammation of your optic nerve, leading to blurred vision, double vision, or even a partial or complete loss of vision, typically in one eye at a time. If you notice any unexplained changes in your vision, it’s critical to seek medical attention.

What to do if you think you might have MS

If you notice any of these early signs of MS persisting or recurring over a period, it’s essential to contact your healthcare provider. They can guide you through the necessary steps for evaluation and diagnosis.

MS can be challenging to diagnose because its symptoms are similar to those of many other medical conditions. However, if it is confirmed, a range of treatments can help manage symptoms and slow disease progression.

Dr. Hapych encourages, “Early detection and treatment can significantly improve the quality of life for people with MS. If you notice any unusual symptoms, don’t hesitate to reach out to your healthcare provider.”

Your health is too important to ignore potential signs of a condition like MS. So, listen to your body, and remember — when it comes to healthcare, you’re your own best advocate.

Similar Posts