Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as motor neuron disease or Lou Gehrig’s disease, leads to progressive loss of motor neurons, which are the cells in charge of muscle control.
Overview and Symptoms
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is also known as motor neuron disease or Lou Gehrig’s disease. This rare disease leads to progressive loss of motor neurons, the cells in charge of muscle control. People with ALS may lose the ability to control how they move, speak, swallow, or breathe. Between 5 to 10% of cases are linked to genetics, while the rest have no known cause.
Symptoms of ALS include:
- Weakness/cramps in arm and leg muscles
- Face, mouth, and tongue muscle weakness
- Difficulty with speaking and swallowing
- Twitching (Fasciculations)
To find out if you have ALS, you will need to go through testing that rules out other health problems and measures the response of your motor nerve cells. Your doctor may also decide that you need more testing after this, such as an MRI or a genetic test.
Treatment at BIDMC
Our multidisciplinary team gives expert, compassionate care to patients with ALS and other motor neuron disorders. Although there is no cure for ALS, there are government-approved treatments that keep the disease from rapidly getting worse. At BIDMC, we are part of a broader research community committed to advancing treatments for ALS. Our patients always have the chance to take part in active research studies.
Other motor neuron disorders include:
- Primary lateral sclerosis
- Progressive bulbar palsy
- Spinobulbar muscular atrophy
- Hereditary spastic paraplegia