8 Tips for Coping With MS Symptoms

Doctor William C Lloyd Healthgrades Medical Reviewer
Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Linda Wasmer Smith on July 9, 2021
  • portrait-of-serious-woman
    MS Problems Have Solutions
    Multiple sclerosis (MS) damages nerve fibers and myelin (the protective material around nerve fibers) in the brain and spinal cord. Depending on where the damage occurs, MS may cause a wide variety of symptoms. But however MS affects you, there are ways to make your life more enjoyable and rewarding.
  • Tired woman
    1. Fatigue
    Four out of five people with MS grapple with fatigue. If this is an issue for you, an occupational or physical therapist can show you energy-saving ways to do everyday activities. Prioritize your to-do list and tackle essential tasks when you're most energetic. Be realistic about how much you take on and how willing you are to accept help from others.
  • elderly woman with hands on cane
    2. Balance Problems
    Feeling off-balance or dizzy is a common symptom of MS. Regular use of handrails and a cane, brace, or walker can prevent many falls. Discuss the problem with your health care team, as well. Possible treatments include physical therapy exercises and motion sickness or nausea medications.
  • Woman exercising
    3. Muscle Stiffness
    Spasticity—involuntary muscle stiffness or spasms—is a challenging symptom of MS, but you can manage it. Avoid triggers, such as cold temperatures and tight clothing and shoes. Get a massage, if your doctor approves. Ask your physical therapist about stretching exercises. Occupational therapy, medication, and braces or splints may be helpful, as well.
  • tensed woman on bed
    4. Walking Problems
    MS-related fatigue, balance problems, foot numbness, and muscle stiffness or weakness can make walking a challenge. But that doesn't mean you're stuck at home. Assistive devices—from canes and walkers to scooters and wheelchairs—can keep you mobile. Other treatments include physical therapy and the medication Ampyra, which improves walking speed.
  • Woman with hands on head
    5. Pain
    MS can cause different types of pain, depending on whether it's rooted in nerve, muscle, or movement problems. Work with your doctor to find the best treatment approach for you. Newer non-narcotic prescription pain medications can give you relief without risks of dependency. Ask whether hot or cold packs and massage are recommended. Explore different methods of managing pain, such as breathing exercises, meditation, hypnosis, and biofeedback.
  • Bathroom sign
    6. Bladder Problems
    At least 80% of people with MS experience bladder problems, such as frequent urination, sudden urges to go, and urine leaks. Establish a routine of urinating every two to four hours, and plan to drink fluids an hour or two before these bathroom breaks. Limit your intake of caffeine and alcohol. Ask your doctor about medication.
  • Smiling woman eating
    7. Constipation
    People with MS often deal with constipation. Be sure to drink enough fluids—at least six to eight glasses a day. Eat fiber-rich foods, such as whole grain breads and cereals and fresh fruits and vegetables. Get regular exercise, which helps keep your bowels moving. Use a stool softener, if your doctor recommends it.
  • Writing in diary
    8. Memory Problems
    Memory problems affect up to 60% of people with MS. Use memory joggers—such as to-do lists, reminder notes, a day planner, and the alarm on your phone—to compensate. Repeat and verify things you've just heard to help retain them. A neuropsychologist may recommend more specific exercises to help rebuild memory skills.
8 Tips for Coping With MS Symptoms


  1. Bladder Dysfunction. National Multiple Sclerosis Society. http://www.nationalmssociety.org/about-multiple-sclerosis/what-we-know-about-ms/symptoms/bladder-dys...
  2. Bowel Dysfunction. National Multiple Sclerosis Society. http://www.nationalmssociety.org/about-multiple-sclerosis/what-we-know-about-ms/symptoms/bowel-dysfu...
  3. Dizziness and Vertigo. National Multiple Sclerosis Society. http://www.nationalmssociety.org/about-multiple-sclerosis/what-we-know-about-ms/symptoms/dizziness--...
  4. Fatigue. National Multiple Sclerosis Society. http://www.nationalmssociety.org/about-multiple-sclerosis/what-we-know-about-ms/symptoms/fatigue/ind...
  5.  Symptoms. National Multiple Sclerosis Society. http://www.nationalmssociety.org/about-multiple-sclerosis/what-we-know-about-ms/symptoms/index.aspx
  6. Walking (Gait), Balance, and Coordination Problems. National Multiple Sclerosis Society. http://www.nationalmssociety.org/about-multiple-sclerosis/what-we-know-about-ms/symptoms/walking-gai...
  7. You Can...Back Up Your Memory. National Multiple Sclerosis Society. http://www.nationalmssociety.org/living-with-multiple-sclerosis/you-can/backup-your-memory/index.asp...
  8. You Can...Get Control of Bladder and Bowel Issues. National Multiple Sclerosis Society. http://www.nationalmssociety.org/living-with-multiple-sclerosis/you-can/control-bladder/index.aspx
  9. You Can...Improve Your Balance. National Multiple Sclerosis Society. http://www.nationalmssociety.org/living-with-multiple-sclerosis/you-can/improve-your-balance/index.a...
  10. You Can...Manage Fatigue. National Multiple Sclerosis Society. http://www.nationalmssociety.org/living-with-multiple-sclerosis/you-can/manage-fatigue/index.aspx
  11. You Can...Learn to Manage Your Pain. National Multiple Sclerosis Society. http://www.nationalmssociety.org/living-with-multiple-sclerosis/you-can/manage-pain/index.aspx
  12. You Can...Remember. National Multiple Sclerosis Society. http://www.nationalmssociety.org/living-with-multiple-sclerosis/you-can/remember/index.aspx)
  13. Controlling Spasticity in MS. National Multiple Sclerosis Society. http://www.nationalmssociety.org/multimedia-library/brochures/managing-specific-issues/download.aspx...
  14. Gait or Walking Problems: The Basic Facts. National Multiple Sclerosis Society. http://www.nationalmssociety.org/multimedia-library/brochures/managing-specific-issues/download.aspx...
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Last Review Date: 2021 Jul 9
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.