Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, is a rapidly progressing disease that attacks the nerve cells in the brain that are responsible for controlling voluntary muscles.
It is part of a group of diseases known as motor neuron disease, which is characterized by the degeneration and death of motor neuron cells.
ALS symptoms include the following:
ALS: what you should know
- There is currently no cure for ALS. As the disease progresses, patients lose the ability to move, swallow or breathe on their own.
- Although mental abilities are typically not affected, many patients experience depression or anxiety due to their rapid physical degeneration.
- Because of the prognosis of ALS, obtaining an accurate diagnosis is critical. Some ALS symptoms can instead be caused by other conditions, including neuropathy, multiple sclerosis, a spinal tumor or herniated disc.
How can I get help for ALS?
- If you have any of the above symptoms, contact your primary care doctor, especially if you have a family history of ALS.
- If your primary care doctor recommends further testing, neuromuscular experts at Rush can help you obtain an accurate diagnosis and begin treatment. They also welcome people seeking second opinions for ALS.
Diagnostic tests for ALS may include the following:
- Nerve conduction study and electromyography (EMG). This test looks for damage in the junctions where muscles meet nerves and measures your nerve function and health.