To prevent the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus), Sheltering Arms has implemented the following safety measures: No visitors at our hospitals except family members who have been asked to participate in person. Our outpatient centers remain open; however, if care is not urgent, we strongly encourage you to reschedule your appointment for May 4 or later. Visit for more information.

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Sheltering Arms Blog

Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis You Can’t See


Posted on: March 2, 2020 by Jenny Lankford

By: Morgan Eppes, PT, DPT, NCS, MSCS

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) affects more than 2.3 million people worldwide. MS occurs when the body’s immune system attacks the insulation, or myelin, surrounding the nerves in the central nervous system. This damage causes widespread symptoms that vary in type and severity including weakness, walking and balance impairments, bowel and bladder dysfunction, and sensation loss. Although symptoms can vary from person to person, there are many common symptoms of MS that are disabling, yet not outwardly apparent; however, each symptom below can impact someone’s quality of life, ability to work and provide for their family, relationships, and community participation.

  1. Fatigue is the lack of physical and mental energy that impacts daily tasks. Fatigue can be physical or mental and is not correlated to how much rest or sleep a person gets. It is one of the most common symptoms and impacts about 80 percent of people living with MS. It can be the most debilitating factor, even for those who have minimal physical restrictions, and is one of the leading causes for people leaving the workforce.
  2. Heat intolerance in MS is a temporary worsening of symptoms with elevated body temperatures including hot and humid weather, exercising, sunbathing, or fevers. A small rise in body temperature (a quarter to a half a degree) can cause increased fatigue, tingling, blurry vision, or even the inability to walk. Most people living with MS have to avoid outdoor activity and/or use cooling garments to complete simple, daily activities due to this intolerance.
  3. Cognitive dysfunction affects high-level brain functions such as memory, attention/concentration, the ability to solve daily problems, understand and use language, and process information from different senses. Impaired cognition affects 50-65 percent of those living with MS and is another major reason for leaving the workforce early.
  4. Pain/abnormal sensation is a common symptom with MS and can be directly related to neuropathic pain (the disease process itself) or from musculoskeletal pain (changes to the body and immobility). The pain experience is unique to each person and can greatly limit his or her ability to participate in and enjoy socialization and activities. Those living with MS can also experience various abnormal sensations such as numbness and tingling, prickling, sharp/stabbing pains, hot/cold sensations, and burning pains which can also impact movement and daily function.
  5. Depression comes in various forms and can be one of the most common symptoms in MS, more common in people with MS than the general population. Depression can happen to anyone at any time during the disease course and does not correlate to disease severity, however it can greatly impact someone’s quality of life and ability to participate in daily activities.

Although MS can be debilitating both mentally and physically, working with an experienced rehabilitation team including physical, occupational, and speech language therapies can help manage symptoms and improve quality of life at any physical level. Sheltering Arms has both neurological-certified and MS-certified specialists who can put together a care plan to help those living with MS. Click here to request an appointment today.