Information for Patients
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
Also called: ALS, Lou Gehrig's disease
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a nervous system disease that attacks nerve cells called neurons in your brain and spinal cord. These neurons transmit messages from your brain and spinal cord to your voluntary muscles - the ones you can control, like in your arms and legs. At first, this causes mild muscle problems. Some people notice
- Trouble walking or running
- Trouble writing
- Speech problems
Eventually, you lose your strength and cannot move. When muscles in your chest fail, you cannot breathe. A breathing machine can help, but most people with ALS die from respiratory failure.
The disease usually strikes between age 40 and 60. More men than women get it. No one knows what causes ALS. It can run in families, but usually it strikes at random. There is no cure. Medicines can relieve symptoms and, sometimes, prolong survival.
NIH: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Medical Encyclopedia)
- Swallowing problems (Medical Encyclopedia)
Neuromuscular disorders affect your neuromuscular system. They can cause problems with
- The nerves that control your muscles
- Your muscles
- Communication between your nerves and muscles
These disorders can cause your muscles to become weak and waste away. You may also have symptoms such as spasms, twitching, and pain.
Examples of neuromuscular disorders include
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
- Muscular dystrophy
- Myasthenia gravis
- Spinal muscular atrophy
There can be different causes for these diseases. Many of them are genetic.This means they are inherited (run in families) or are caused by a new mutation in your genes. Some neuromuscular disorders are autoimmune diseases. Sometimes the cause is not known.
Many neuromuscular diseases have no cure. But treatments may improve symptoms, increase mobility, and lengthen life.
- Apraxia (Medical Encyclopedia)
- Hand or foot spasms (Medical Encyclopedia)
- Muscle atrophy (Medical Encyclopedia)
- Muscle function loss (Medical Encyclopedia)
- Muscle twitching (Medical Encyclopedia)
- Myotonia congenita (Medical Encyclopedia)
- Spasticity (Medical Encyclopedia)