6 Early Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease of the central nervous system. The nervous system is so complex and involved in so much of what we do and how we feel. Disrupted nerve signals show up in many different ways, making multiple sclerosis both unpredictable and tricky to diagnose. Currently, there is no single test or symptom that definitively determines that a person has the disease.  Doctors must use a number of tests to rule out other possible conditions that cause similar symptoms and find evidence of damage in two separate areas of the brain, spinal cord, or optic nerve. Additionally, they have to find evidence that the two instances of damage happened at two separate times. 


In other words, it is not possible to test for MS at home. And because of the complexity of our nervous system and the countless neural pathways susceptible to damage, multiple sclerosis shows up in many different ways.  Below, we describe a small handful of the early signs of MS. This brief list of illustrates the complex affect that the disease can have on a person’s daily life.

6 Early Signs of Multiple Sclerosis

If you suffer from any combination of these symptoms, it’s important to discuss them with a doctor. 

1. Visual problems

For many people who suffer from multiple sclerosis, visual impairment is the first sign that something is not right. Inflammation or damage to the optic nerve may result in: blurred vision, uncontrolled eye movement, blindness in one eye, and double vision. 

2. Numbness and tingling

Facial numbness and tingling in the arms and legs are both common symptoms of multiple sclerosis. It may be mild enough to tolerate or so severe that it impairs the use of the affected body part and impedes the activities of daily life. Extreme numbness can also increase the risk of burn injuries around fire and hot water, or bite injuries to the cheeks and tongue. 

3. Vertigo 

Damage to certain parts of the neural pathways can affect visual and spatial coordination, leading to vertigo. Vertigo in turn often results in lightheadedness, nausea and problems with balance.  

4. Bladder dysfunction

According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, 80% of people with MS have bladder problems due to the faulty transmission of nerve signals. Symptoms include frequent urination and incontinence. 

5. Cognitive issues

For some people, cognitive difficulties are one of the first signs of multiple sclerosis. These may include trouble with: concentration, memory, information processing, and visual perception.  

6. Fatigue

Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms in multiple sclerosis, and the cause varies from person to person. For some, it is the result of deterioration of nerves in the spinal column. Others may develop fatigue from insufficient sleep due to bladder dysfunction or nighttime muscle spasms. And sometimes, the fatigue is caused by the effort and exertion required to manage the range of MS symptoms. 

Rehabilitation Therapies for Patients with Multiple Sclerosis

Unfortunately, there is no cure for MS. There are, however, ways to slow disease progression, manage symptoms, optimize quality of life, and maintain independence. Multiple sclerosis treatment varies from patient to patient. 

Any comprehensive MS care plan will include rehabilitation strategies to promote wellness and help patients to live their best possible life. Every patient’s needs are different, but rehabilitative therapies a skilled nursing facility may offer patients with MS include: 

Physical therapy – PT exercises for mobility, balance, and strength will promote safety and optimal functioning. Physical therapy treatment for Multiple Sclerosis can also help prevent deconditioning of the muscles and address bladder issues.  

Occupational therapy – OTs help patients with MS learn to use assistive devices to maintain independence in the activities of daily living, and to evaluate and treat problems with thinking and memory. 

Speech therapy – When damage to the central nervous system affects speech and/or swallowing, speech therapists use voice training, oral exercises, breath control and other techniques to help patients communicate clearly and swallow safely. 

Looking for a skilled nursing facility for MS rehab therapy? Visit Bella Vista!

Bella Vista Health Center offers all a range of therapies and medical services for those who suffer from multiple sclerosis and other conditions. From the moment a patient walks into our 5-star skilled nursing facility, our team of medical specialists and health professionals begins to customize a care plan designed to maximize patient independence and a quick discharge. For more information on our rehabilitation programs and services, give us a call at (619) 644-1000 or come see us in Lemon Grove today.