Recognizing the Early Signs of Multiple Sclerosis

Apr 05, 2023
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While multiple sclerosis may be one of the more common neurological disorders, it’s one of the hardest to pin down, as it takes a different path with each person. Still, there are some similarities in early symptoms.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is one of the most common neurological disorders among younger adults, affecting nearly 1 million Americans. Despite this large number, no two people have the same MS journey, because the disease can take many different paths.

Making matters even more complicated, there’s no single test that can identify whether a person has MS, but we do have diagnostic criteria that connect the dots between different central nervous system symptoms.

In reality, the best way to determine whether a person has MS is to seek the help of an experienced neurology team, such as the one that board-certified adult neurologist and psychiatrist Dr. Paul Gill leads here at Gill Neuroscience

We offer a wide range of neurological services that cover everything from MS to migraines.

While a blog post such as this one can’t accurately diagnose a neurological disorder like MS, we can outline a few of the early warning signs so you can take prompt action.

MS in brief

It’s difficult to be brief about a disorder as complex as MS, but, in short, this is a disease in which your body mistakenly attacks myelin in your central nervous system, including your brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves. Myelin is a substance that creates a protective sheath that covers your nerves.

MS most often presents itself in people between the ages of 20 and 40, and from there, it can take many different courses. 

MS can be mild and not create meaningful disability, or it can be progressive and eventually lead to more severe symptoms. In most cases, the symptoms of MS develop for short periods that are followed by periods of inactivity and quiet (remission).

Some early warning flags

There’s no single test that can identify MS, which leaves us to evaluate symptoms. For most people with MS, the disorder first presents itself with one or more of the following:

Vision issues

MS can attack the myelin in your optic nerve, which can affect your vision. Blurry vision or double vision are common, but the attack on your optic nerve can also lead to eye pain and rapid vision loss.


People with early MS often experience muscle weakness, especially in the hands and/or legs. In addition to weakness, some people experience muscle stiffness or muscle spasms.

As a result of the muscle weakness, you can develop problems like foot drop, in which your foot can drop or drag, which can lead to gait problems and clumsiness.

Pins and needles

Another common early symptom of MS is numbness and tingling in your body, especially in your face, arms, legs, and trunk.

Bladder dysfunction

Many people with MS experience bladder control issues.


Up to 80% of people with MS experience general fatigue that has nothing to do with activity levels or lack of sleep.

Sexual dysfunction

MS can have a big impact on sexual health, causing erectile dysfunction in men, loss of libido in both sexes, problems with orgasm, and lack of sensation.

We’re going to stop here, but understand that this list is only representative of a large number of potential symptoms of MS.

The bottom line is that if you’re experiencing strange and unaccountable changes in your health and some match what we’ve described above, it’s time to come see us.

To get started, you can call our office in Houston, Texas, at 832-912-7777 or use our online request form to set up an appointment at your convenience.