The Early Signs of Multiple Sclerosis

There are several early signs of multiple sclerosis. Have you ever experienced tingling, numbness, loss of balance, weakness in one or more limbs, blurred or double vision? These are some of the most typical signs or symptoms that might suggest to a doctor that you have multiple sclerosis.

The signs may come on so gradually that you may not even know you’re having any symptoms until you look back years later. The signs can range from very mild to very severe. When mild, the signs may be barely noticeable. When severe, you may end up in the hospital wondering what is going on. The doctors may have to put you through several tests to find out the cause of your symptoms.

The when and who of MS

When do these signs or symptoms usually occur? They usually occur in women or men typically around the ages 20 to 40. Very rarely do they effect children or adults over 50, but it does happen. Most young adults are otherwise healthy and active.

They may be at the beginning of their careers, as well. A diagnosis of multiple sclerosis can force them to rethink and possibly even change their life goals. If the diagnosis is relapsing-remitting MS, then there may be very little change other than learning how to manage the symptoms so that they can continue working.

These early signs of multiple sclerosis can come and go over a period of several years. Vision problems are another sign that many people who come to develop MS experience early on. An episode of optic neuritis (ON) may cause your doctor to send you to a neurologist to decide if it was caused by multiple sclerosis.

Maybe it’s a CIS

Have you ever experienced one or more of the early signs of multiple sclerosis? Some people may experience what is called a clinical isolated syndrome or a CIS. It is a single symptom or a set of symptoms that happens only once. The person is only considered to have MS if the sign or symptom happens a second time. An MRI or other test must confirm that the cause is indeed a result of MS, and the diagnosis is usually said to be the relapsing-remitting type of the disease after the second attack.

Occasionally there is no second attack. About twenty to forty percent of the time, a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis can’t be given. The CIS is said to be the only cause. The person has one sign or symptom that is typical of MS like optic neuritis, but no other episodes or attacks in the months or years that follow. Unfortunately, in about sixty to eighty percent of those who have a CIS, multiple sclerosis will develop later on.

List of early signs

The following is a list of the earliest signs common to MS. Of course, in and of themselves, they could be a symptom of any number of things. That’s why it takes a complete examination by a neurologist to rule out any other diseases or conditions. This examination may take more than one visit, however. A complete medical history and battery of tests, including an MRI, will show whether or not you actually have the disease.

optic neuritis


sensations in the arms or legs

muscle weakness

lhermitte’s sign



Even though you may experience one of the signs or symptoms in the list above, don’t automatically assume that you have MS. The best thing to do is to go to your doctor and talk to them about your concerns. Your doctor knows your history, and you know your body better than anyone.

Sooner rather than later

You are more likely to realize that something is not right long before anyone else does. Obviously, the earlier this condition is diagnosed, the earlier you can begin to do something about it. Whether it’s learning how to manage the symptoms or making decisions about which treatments to use. If you have any of the early signs of multiple sclerosis listed above, and they are bothersome, the best course of action is to see your doctor. He or she may be able to rule out MS or some other condition. And if it turns out to be multiple sclerosis, at least you’ll know and can begin to deal with it now rather than later.