About MS Attacks

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease. Autoimmune diseases develop when your immune system, which usually defends against disease, begins to attack healthy cells. In MS, the immune system attacks the central nervous system (CNS), which can affect how you walk, your speech, even your thought process.

What is an MS attack?

An MS attack (also called a relapse, flare, or exacerbation) happens when old symptoms suddenly become worse or when new symptoms appear. MS attacks can have a profound impact on your life, and can sometimes interfere with your daily function.

MS attacks can be unpredictable

MS attacks can happen at any time, even if you’re taking a disease-modifying therapy (DMT). Your DMT is a medication you may take on a regular basis. Your DMT is an important part of your MS treatment plan because it may help lower the number of attacks you have over time; however, it may not totally prevent them from happening. But there are medications for MS attacks, specifically to help speed symptom relief.

Signs and symptoms of an MS attack

As with many conditions, different people experience MS attacks in different ways. And each attack can be different from the last. That’s why it can be so tough to tell if you’re having symptoms of an MS attack, or just not feeling well due to other causes.

Brain and central nervous system

  • Fatigue
  • Pain
  • Muscle tightness or stiffness
  • Burning or itching
  • Chewing/swallowing problems
  • Speech changes

Cerebellum/brain stem

  • Coordination difficulty
  • Poor balance
  • Difficulty walking
  • Facial numbness
  • Eye movement problems, causing dizziness and double vision

Optic nerve

  • Loss of vision
  • Suddenly blurred or “foggy” vision, sometimes described as “disturbed” or “blackened”
  • Pain in movement of eye, sometimes followed by visual loss
  • Color blindness, especially the color red

Spinal cord

  • Hand/arm tingling
  • Numbness/tingling
  • Leg/foot weakness
  • Bowel and bladder problems
  • Sexual problems

Select a circle to the right to learn more about common MS attack symptoms and the part of the body they are associated with.

These are just some of the symptoms associated with an MS attack. Symptoms can vary from person to person, so be sure to talk to your doctor about any symptoms you may be having.

Areas in your body affected by MS attacks | Acthar Gel

Even if you’re not experiencing an MS attack right now, it’s important to know when you should take action.