Every year, more than 5,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), typically between the ages of 40 and 70. While everyone with ALS develops muscle weakness, the earliest symptoms are different for each person. William Shankle, MS, MD, FACP, and the team at Shankle Clinic in Newport Beach, California, perform the testing needed to determine if you have ALS or another condition, and then they develop a customized treatment that helps you maintain function longer. At the first sign of muscle problems, call the office or book an appointment online.
ALS is a neurodegenerative disease that occurs when motor nerves in your brain and spinal cord deteriorate and die. Motor nerves carry messages from your brain to muscles throughout your body.
As these nerves die, ALS affects voluntary muscle movements that allow you to move, speak, eat, and breathe. ALS is a progressive and fatal disease for which there’s currently no cure.
There are two types of ALS. Sporadic ALS causes 90-95% of all cases and doesn’t have a known cause. Familial ALS develops due to an inherited genetic mutation.
ALS symptoms typically develop slowly and then progressively worsen over the course of three to 10 or more years. Your symptoms may begin in muscles that control speech and swallowing, or they may first appear in your arms or legs.
The first symptoms and patterns of progression are different for each person. However, progressive muscle weakness and paralysis affect everyone.
The symptoms caused by ALS include:
You may have trouble gripping or lifting objects like a coffee cup. You may also notice a change in pitch when you speak.
After reviewing your medical history and conducting a physical exam, your provider may order diagnostic tests such as an MRI or blood work. He may also perform an electromyogram and nerve conduction studies to evaluate nerve function in your muscles.
Once you’re diagnosed with ALS, the team at Shankle Clinic focuses on minimizing your symptoms, prolonging your life, and improving your quality of life.
The US Food and Drug Administration has approved several drugs to treat the symptoms of ALS, including:
In addition to ALS medications, the team at Shankle Clinic may also prescribe medications to relieve muscle cramping. You can depend on them to provide support for all aspects of your health.
They also help you find other therapies to manage your symptoms, such as physical, speech, respiratory, and nutritional therapies.
If you notice muscle weakness or changes in your coordination, call Shankle Clinic or schedule an appointment online.