Skip to navigation Skip to content



New Study Finds Issues Like Pain and Sleeping Disorders in People Long Before MS Symptoms Emerge

April 20, 2020

National MS Society-funded collaborators from the University of British Columbia and other Canadian institutions have been searching for the multiple sclerosis “prodrome” – a constellation of early signs or symptoms of the disease. They have identified early events that distinguish people who are later diagnosed with MS from those who are not. Compared to those who did not develop MS, people who were later diagnosed with MS had a higher number of doctor visits for pain, fatigue, anemia, and sleeping disorders. The researchers believe that these symptoms form part of the MS prodrome.
  • The team traced medical records of thousands of people within five years of having a neurological episode or first MS symptom, and compared them with people who did not have an episode or first MS symptoms.
  • People who went on to develop MS were more likely to visit the doctor for pain, sleeping disorders, anemia, and fatigue during the five years before their diagnosis, and these visits increased as time went on toward developing MS.
  • Men were more likely to have anemia, and doctor visits for pain were higher for older individuals.
  • This study adds to mounting evidence that MS begins below the surface, often long before any signs or symptoms emerge. Defining the constellation of hidden signals and biological markers of the MS prodrome will eventually enable earlier detection and treatment to prevent full-blown MS, and can also provide clues to the underlying causes of MS.
  • “Fatigue, sleep disorders, anaemia and pain in the multiple sclerosis prodrome” was published on April 6, 2020 in Multiple Sclerosis Journal by Drs. Fardowsa LA Yusuf, Ruth Ann Marrie, Helen Tremlett and collaborators.   
Read the scientific abstract in Multiple Sclerosis Journal
Read another news item about the MS prodrome: “New Study Asks: When Does MS Begin?”  
Read more about symptoms of MS

About Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system. There is currently no cure for MS. Symptoms vary from person to person and range from numbness and tingling, to mobility challenges, blindness and paralysis. An estimated 1 million people live with MS in the United States. Most people are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, and it affects women three times more than men.

About the National Multiple Sclerosis Society

The National MS Society, founded in 1946, funds cutting-edge research, drives change through advocacy, and provides programs and services to help people affected by MS live their best lives. Connect to learn more and get involved:, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube or 1-800-344-4867.


© 2021 The National Multiple Sclerosis Society is a tax exempt 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Its Identification Number (EIN) is 13-5661935.