What Are the Signs & Symptoms of MS in the Neck?

Updated February 21, 2017

Multiple aclerosis, or MS, is one of several disorders affecting the myelin casing that covers the nerve fibres around the spine. The damage done to this casing allows the delicate central nervous system to leak out fluid and triggers "misfires" along the nerve impulses and eventually nerve death. Several symptoms that appear along the neck and spine can be warning signs of multiple sclerosis.

Constant Physical Fatigue

One of the early warning signs of MS is a constant fatigue in the limbs and other body parts, such as the neck. Fatigue itself can be related to exhaustion or several illnesses and should not be taken as a sure indicator of MS. The type of fatigue that more clearly relates to MS is often accompanied by a weakness or clumsiness in the legs or the hands and will not dissipate with rest. If you are experiencing stiffness in the neck along with fatigue, rest more and check yourself for flulike symptoms. If the situation does not resolve after five to seven days, seek medical attention.

Numbness or Shakiness

Another symptom of MS is numbness in the neck or spine. This can be accompanied by a cool sensation or by the trademark "pins and needles" that are usually associated with numbness in the extremities. Shakiness is also possible and will usually be experienced as a kind of difficulty holding the head up. These symptoms stem from nerve "misfiring," which results in jumbled signals. While both symptoms are also indicative of other conditions (such as Parkinson's disease) the likelihood is that numbness or shakiness in the neck and spine means trouble. Seek medical help immediately if experiencing these symptoms.

Lhermitte's Sign

While most of the signs and symptoms of MS are general (could also be a number of other illnesses from mild to severe,) Lhermitte's sign is one of the few very clear indicators. Lhermitte's sign manifests physically as lesions near the cervical spine and experientially as a feeling of substantial pain in the spine and neck that feels similar to electric shock, often as the neck is bent forward. After this, a change in objective sensory interpretation often occurs. Tastes may change radically (for example, chicken might taste overly flavourful, like pepperoni, or ice cream might have no taste at all) or colours might appear askew (either colour blindness or colour confusion). Those who suspect experiencing Lhermitte's sign should seek medical help immediately.

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About the Author

Sean Russell has been writing since 1999 and has contributed to several magazines, including "Spin" and "Art Nouveau." When not writing, Sean helps maintain community gardens in Silver Lake and Echo Park, California. Russell also worked extensively on the restoration and rejuvenation of public parks in Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi after damage from 2004-2005 hurricanes.