Fatigue in multiple sclerosis: mechanisms, evaluation, and treatment

Sleep. 2010 Aug;33(8):1061-7. doi: 10.1093/sleep/33.8.1061.


Among patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), fatigue is the most commonly reported symptom, and one of the most debilitating. Despite its high prevalence and significant impact, fatigue is still poorly understood and often under-emphasized because of its complexity and subjective nature. In recent years, an abundance of literature from specialists in sleep medicine, neurology, psychiatry, psychology, physical medicine and rehabilitation, and radiology have shed light on the potential causes, impact, and treatment of MS-related fatigue. Though such a diversity of contributions clearly has advantages, few recent articles have attempted to synthesize this literature, and existing overviews have focused primarily on potential causes of fatigue rather than clinical evaluation or treatment. The aims of this review are to examine, in particular for sleep specialists, the most commonly proposed primary and secondary mechanisms of fatigue in MS, tools for assessment of fatigue in this setting, and available treatment approaches to a most common and challenging problem.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / adverse effects
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / therapeutic use
  • Comorbidity
  • Fatigue / drug therapy
  • Fatigue / epidemiology*
  • Fatigue / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Multiple Sclerosis / epidemiology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / complications*
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / epidemiology*


  • Central Nervous System Stimulants