As myeloma cells divide and increase in number, they can affect the body in various ways.
Symptoms can include:
- bone pain or fractures, including compression fractures of the spine, which can cause severe pain, particularly in the back
- a backache that lasts for months, which can signal that multiple myeloma is affecting the bones in the spine or the ribs
- frequent infections, especially bacterial infections of the respiratory or urinary tracts, which occur because the immune system is weakened
- fatigue, weight loss, or general discomfort caused by anemia (insufficient red blood cells)
- nausea, vomiting, an altered mental state, depression, or headaches, caused by an abnormally high calcium level in the blood (hypercalcemia)
- changes to the kidneys that cause fatigue, a buildup of fluid in the lower limbs, nausea, or vomiting
- bruising, rashes, nosebleeds, vision loss, headaches, dizziness, or numbness, tingling, or a burning pain in the hands or feet (peripheral neuropathy), caused by blood that has thickened due to a high level of proteins
- shooting pain in the arms or legs caused by a tumor in the spinal column pressing on nerves
About one-third of people affected by multiple myeloma have no symptoms. Routine blood tests detect their elevated levels of immunoglobulin proteins at the time of diagnosis.