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Early Symptoms of MS in Women

author image J. Lucy Boyd
J. Lucy Boyd, RN, BSN has written several nonfiction books including "The Complete Guide to Healthy Cooking and Nutrition for College Students." She is frequently called upon to provide career guidance to medical professionals and advice to parents of children with challenges. She also loves teaching others to cook for their families.
Early Symptoms of MS in Women
Many women with MS notice a limp when they walk or run.
Medically Reviewed by
George Krucik, MD, MBA

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disorder of the central nervous system that causes damage to the covering of the nerves. It is rarely fatal but often causes disability. Merck Manual reports that around 400,000 Americans suffer from MS. Multiple sclerosis usually strikes in the individual's twenties or thirties. It is more common in women and the cause is unknown. It is felt to be a response of the body attacking itself for unknown reasons. Early symptoms often come and go for years before diagnosis; exposure to heat typically worsens symptoms.

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Tingling and Burning

The first sign of MS for some women is tingling and burning at a particular place on the body. The area may feel itchy, or as if it is being burned. It may feel numb; this feeling may come and go. You may touch something with your fingers and not be able to feel it.

Vision Changes

Your vision may become blurry in one or both eyes. This is often worse when you try to look straight ahead, causing you to look at things using your peripheral vision in order to see them clearly. The affected eye may hurt when you move it. The stronger eye may develop problems and move involuntarily. You may experience double vision.

Electric Shock Sensation

You may feel a sensation like a brief electric shock when you move your head downward. It may be felt in your back or along one side of your body. Sometimes, it is felt in one arm or both legs at once.

Loss of Strength

You may notice that one of your hands is not as strong as it used to be. You may have difficulty with knitting, working with clay or performing other complicated tasks with your hands. You may seem clumsy and drop things. One foot may become weak, causing you to lose your balance or fall. Brigham and Women's Hospital explains that loss of foot strength may cause you to have difficulty walking. You may have a need to lean on a cane or a companion when walking great distances. Like the other early symptoms, this may last a few weeks, and then go away for months.

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