Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, more commonly called ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, is a neurodegenerative disease of the motor neurons, which communicate between the brain/spinal cord and muscles throughout the body and allow us to choose to move our arms and legs. This disease results in these important neurons gradually dying, and muscle, which is no longer getting messages to move, weakens and atrophies. The result is the increasing muscle weakness in arms and legs, slurring of speech, muscle cramping, and paralysis that are characteristic of ALS. Sadly, this is currently an incurable and terminal disease, but some medications and therapies are recommended as a means of combatting symptoms.
Your neurologist may order such tests as EMG or NCS, muscle biopsy, MRI, and blood/urine tests. Although there is no definitive test to diagnose ALS at this time, the above can be used in conjunction with symptoms and history to rule out other diseases and allow for a reasonable diagnosis.
For those looking for resources for ALS, you can visit the ALS Association Minnesota/North Dakota/South Dakota Chapter website or contact them at 888-672-0484. They provide information on this disease for patients and caregivers, as well as how you can become an advocate to fight for research into ALS. For the month of May, they are encouraging those affected by ALS to share their stories on the ALS Awareness Month page.
If you or a loved one are experiencing an onset of weakness in the arms and/or legs, although this may not be ALS, it is still best to be evaluated for possible neurological causes. Please contact Noran Neurological Clinic at 612-879-1500 to schedule an appointment with a neurologist experienced in the evaluation and treatment of motor neuron disorders.