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What is Multiple Sclerosis Numbness?

By Erin J. Hill
Updated May 17, 2024
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Multiple sclerosis (MS) numbness is a common symptom of MS patients and is hallmarked by a numb or tingling feeling in the arms, legs, or face. Although described as “numbness,” this symptom can occur with a wide range of sensations. Tingling, pricking sensations, vibration-like feelings, and burning are all common. These physical sensations often accompany any numbness, which commonly feels similar to when the hands or feet “fall asleep,” but it lasts for a much longer period of time.

Although many doctors list multiple sclerosis numbness as a benign rather than dangerous problem, it can lead to difficulties doing many everyday activities. Numbness in the tongue can lead to speech problems, while in the hands and legs it can lead to fine motor skill issues and pain while walking. Patients may need help getting around, feeding themselves, writing, using the restroom, and sleeping.

Multiple sclerosis numbness may last for days, weeks, or sometimes months. Certain medications, such as corticosteroids, may help lessen symptoms over time. During a period of remission, symptoms may go away entirely or lessen dramatically.

The symptoms associated with multiple sclerosis numbness are not life-threatening, although they can be quite bothersome. Patients may need medication to help control uncomfortable feelings. Patients may also need to avoid certain situations or activities, because sometimes numbness will occur due to an outside stressor, such as extreme temperature changes. In these cases, they should subside once the stressor is no longer present.

Having multiple sclerosis numbness is not an indication that the disease is worsening. This is a common symptom, even in early stages of the disease and often eventually subsides for long periods. Medication may help patients to avoid the onset of symptoms or to lessen them until a period of remission begins. Many patients with MS do not lose total mobility and are able to continue self-sufficiency with proper treatment.

Multiple sclerosis numbness is often the first indication of having the illness for many patients. It may begin as a slight tingling and numb sensation and eventually cause painful pricking sensations and burning. The severity of discomfort varies widely from patient to patient, as does the length that initial symptoms last.

Anyone experiencing numbness or other unusual symptoms should consult their doctor for evaluation. MS is one of the most common neurological disorders in young to middle-aged adults. There is no cure for multiple sclerosis, but symptoms can be effectively managed in most cases.

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Discussion Comments
By SarahGen — On Sep 11, 2013

@simrin-- I have MS. I was diagnosed last year when lesions were found in my spinal MRI. Did you have a spinal MRI or another type?

MS plays out slightly differently in everyone, but almost everyone has numbness.

By stoneMason — On Sep 10, 2013

@simrin-- I have not been diagnosed with MS yet, but I do have numbness that's symptomatic of MS just like you. I too would like to hear from MS patients.

I've had this symptom for months now but my doctor is not taking me seriously. I don't know if he's waiting for me to show other signs of multiple sclerosis.

By SteamLouis — On Sep 10, 2013

My doctor suspects that I might have MS because of the numbness I'm experiencing. I have numbness in my legs that seem to travel. Sometimes it's accompanied by pins and needles but not always.

I've had blood tests and an MRI and they haven't found anything out of the ordinary.

I will be getting more tests in the next few weeks and my doctor is going to try and find out if this is MS. I'm scared but if I get a diagnosis, at least I'll know what I'm dealing with.

Does anyone here have MS? Can you tell me about your multiple sclerosis diagnosis and treatment?

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