Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a nervous system (neurological) disease that causes muscle weakness and impacts physical function. It is a chronic, progressive neurologic disease marked by gradual degeneration of the neurons in the spinal cord that control voluntary muscle movement.

The disorder causes muscle weakness and atrophy and with no known cure, usually results in death.

ALS is often called Lou Gehrigs's Disease, which was named after a famous baseball player who was diagnosed with it. ALS is a type of motor neuron disease that causes nerve cells to gradually brake down.  ALS is rare and in a small number of cases are inherited.

Symptoms

  • Muscle twitching and weakness in an arm or leg, or sometimes with slurring of speech or trouble swallowing.
  • Hand weakness or clumsiness.
  • Difficulty walking, tripping or difficulty doing your normal daily activities.
  • Difficulty holding your head up or keeping a good posture.
  • Disease frequently begins in your hands, feet or limbs, and then spreads to other parts of your body.

Testing and Diagnosis

  • EMG study-test evaluates the electrical activity of your muscles when they contract and when they are at rest.
  • MRI-reveal if there is any abnormal finding in the brain or spinal cord.
  • Blood Test-help eliminate other possible causes of your signs and symptoms.
  • Spinal Tap-taking a sample of your spinal fluid to test the cerebrospinal fluid.
  • Muscle biopsy-this could decipher if you have muscle disease rather than ALS.

Treatment

  • Because there is no reversing the course of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, treatments focus on slowing the progression of symptoms, preventing unnecessary complications and making you more comfortable and independent.
  • Seeking a Neurologist would be the best course of action for treating ALS, so they may place you on the proper medications to slow the disease.

 

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