What is severe MS?
People are generally considered to be severely affected by MS if they have very limited mobility and many complex symptoms, making them dependent upon others for care and support.
Some people become severely affected temporarily, often during a serious relapse where symptoms and disability increase suddenly. When this happens, major life changes may be required. This can be very difficult for all involved.
There is also an extremely rare and very aggressive form of MS, sometimes referred to as ‘Marburg MS’, which causes rapidly increasing disability. Little is known about this condition, though research continues.
In any of these situations MS may take over a person’s life, affecting almost every action, from eating a meal to going outside.
It is vital that they get the right care and support and that appropriate services are provided as well as equipment to aid independence. For more information, see care and support for people with severe MS.
Symptoms of severe MS
The symptoms of severe MS are similar to those experienced at any stage of MS.
The difference is that a person with severe MS will experience many, or even most, of these symptoms simultaneously.
Click the links to read more about these symptoms and how to manage them:
- Pain in muscles nerves and joints, and sensory changes
- Bladder and bowel problems including incontinence, urinary tract infections and constipation.
- Limited mobility and weakness (upper body and legs). Read more in our factsheets on balance and posture and moving well with MS
- Muscle spasms, cramps and stiffness
- Swallowing problems. People severely affected by MS often find it difficult to chew and swallow food.
- Speech problems
- Cognitive problems such as difficulties with memory and thinking
- Depression and emotional problems, including mood swings and emotional upheavals like bouts of anger or hyper-sensitivity
- Pressure sores also known as pressure sores or bed sores. Read more in our factsheet on pressure sores