Addressing Multiple Sclerosis in Communities of Color

Martin M.S. Alliance Foundation

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Primary symptoms of M.S. are a direct result of the demyelination process.

This impairs the transmission of electrical signals to muscles (to allow them to move appropriately) and the organs of the body (allowing them to perform normal functions.)

The symptoms include: weakness, tremors, tingling, numbness, loss of balance, vision impairment, paralysis, and bladder or bowel problems.

Tingling / Numbness Abnormal sensations.

Many people with MS experience abnormal sensations such as "pins and needles," numbness, itching, burning, stabbing, or tearing pains. 

• Loss of balance

• Weakness in one or more limbs

Loss of Vision or Blurred/Double vision

Vision problems are common in people with MS.

In fact, one vision problem, optic neuritis, occurs in 55% of people with the condition.

Optic Neuritis results in blindness in one or both eyes or blurring or graying of vision.  

Numbness of the face, body, or extremities (arms and legs) often the first symptom of the numbness may be mild or so severe that it interferes with the ability to use the affected body part.

For example, a person with very numb feet may have difficulty walking.

Numb hands may prevent writing, dressing, or holding objects safely. 

Cognitive Dysfunction

This generally means slowed ability to think, reason, concentrate, or remembers.

Other cognitive functions frequently affected in MS include speed of information processing, executive functions (planning and prioritizing).

The first signs of cognitive dysfunction may be subtle. The person may have difficulty in finding the right words to say, or trouble remembering what to do on the job or during daily routines at home.

Decisions that once were easy now demonstrate poor judgment.

Often, the family becomes aware of the problem first, noticing changes in behavior or personal habits. 

Dizziness is a common symptom of M.S. People with M.S. may feel off balance or lightheaded or the sensation that they or their surroundings are spinning a condition known as vertigo. 

These symptoms are caused by damage in the complex nerve pathways that coordinate vision and other inputs into the brain that are needed to maintain balance.

Speech Disorders, speech patterns disruptions pauses, or the so-called “scanning'” speech; the normal “melody” or speech pattern is disrupted, with abnormally long pauses between words or individual syllables of words, words are slurred or sound nasal. This is usually the result of weakness and/or in coordination of the muscles of the tongue, lips, cheeks, and mouth. 

Walking into walls a person will become off balance and fall into the walls, or walk into doors.

Primary Symptoms of M.S.