Dr. Paul Donohue
North America Syndicate Inc.
May. 7, 2001
QUESTION: I have multiple sclerosis and have a hard time explaining what it feels like. Please do an article on MS.
ANSWER: Multiple sclerosis manifests itself in many diverse ways. Almost all MS patients share the symptoms of fatigue and loss of energy. A majority experience vision problems. A sudden, total loss of vision in one eye is common. Sight usually returns. Double vision is another symptom many MS patients share. The reason is that MS frequently attacks nerves serving eye muscles, and eye muscle imbalance cannot coordinate eye alignment necessary for a fused, single image.
Peculiar sensations often arise. Some feel tingling. Others feel pain. One patient said that she felt as though someone had pounded nails through her shoes and she was forced to walk on them. Muscle weakness is an all-but-universal symptom. Patients often lose their sense of balance. Both conditions are responsible for a stumbling gait. Similar weakness and imbalance can affect the arms and hands.
Why such a diverse array of symptoms from patient to patient? Multiple scars - "sclerosis" - stud the brain and spinal cord in an unpredictable pattern, giving many symptoms unique to each patient. Furthermore, symptoms usually disappear, only to be followed by a set of new symptoms. From five to 15 years after MS onset, patients have generally developed symptoms that are permanent.
Access the National Muscular Sclerosis Society Web site at www.nmss.org.