6 Common Complications of Multiple Sclerosis—and What to Do About Them

By Erica Patino
Reviewed by Adam Kaplin, M.D.
September 23, 2022

For people with multiple sclerosis (MS), the immune system attacks nerves in the brain and spinal cord by demyelinating axons—that is, by removing the insulation that surrounds the wiring of the neurons, much like the rubber insulation that surrounds the wires that deliver electricity in our homes. This leads to inflammation and altered electrical signals in the brain, which often result in physical symptoms like tingling, fatigue, numbness, weakness, and trouble walking.

However, multiple sclerosis can affect the body and mind in many other ways—issues caused by the disease or its treatment that are referred to as complications of MS.

As Jonathan Howard, M.D., a board-certified neurologist and associate professor of neurology at NYU Grossman School of Medicine, in New York City, explains, “MS can cause a wide variety of symptoms, both directly due to injury to the nervous system, and secondarily as a consequence of disability.”