Sensory symptoms

People living with multiple sclerosis often experience a change in their skin known as sensory symptoms or sometimes, altered sensations. If you’ve felt something in your skin that feels ‘strange’ and is hard to describe, you’re not alone.

Some of the more common sensory symptoms include:

  • Numbness
  • Pins and needles
  • Tingling
  • Crawling
  • Prickling
  • Burning
  • Tightness
  • Itching

These sensations can occur in any part of the body (on one or both sides), usually the face, body, arms or legs but sometimes also the genital area. This can impact your movement or usage e.g. numb feet can affect walking and numb hands, your ability to write, dress or hold objects safely.

These uncomfortable, sensory symptoms (known as dysaesthesia, paraesthesia or allodynia depending on their impact – refer glossary, page 4) are the result of damage of the nerves caused by multiple sclerosis and so the brain can no longer interpret incoming signals. To deal with this, the brain tries to relate the signal to something the body has experienced before like being squeezed or burnt, or to something it can imagine.

Learn more: publications

Common symptoms

Multiple sclerosis symptoms are varied and unpredictable, depending on which part of the central nervous system is affected and to what degree.

Symptom management

There are several treatments available to ease specific symptoms and slow the progression of multiple sclerosis.


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