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Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
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About Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

Also known as Motor Neuron Disease (MND)


Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a rare neurological condition that comprises a group of severe disorders of the nervous system characterized by progressive degeneration of motor neurons affecting voluntary muscle activity including speaking, walking, swallowing, and general movement of the body. They are neurodegenerative in nature, and cause increasing disability and, eventually, death. ALS occur in adults and children, both. Symptoms can be present at birth in inherited or familial form of disease or appear before the child learns to walk. In adults, ALS occur more commonly in men than in women, with symptoms appearing after age 40.

Motor Neuron Disease


Initial symptoms include:

  • • Muscle cramp/pain
  • • Muscle twitches
  • • Slurred speech
  • • Weakness in the limbs
  • • Increased clumsiness
  • • Weakened grip

As disease progresses, above symptoms increase, along with:

  • • Shrinkage of limb muscles
  • • Abnormally stiff muscles(spasticity)
  • • Progressive dysphagia
  • • Drooling
  • • Yawning
  • • Jaw pain
  • • Speech problems
  • • Emotionally labile personality
  • • Memory and cognitive changes
  • • Dementia
  • • Breathing problems


Some cases are inherited, but the causes of most ALS are not known. Environmental, toxic, viral, or genetic factors may be implicated.


- Clinical evaluation
- Blood and urine tests
- MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan
- EMG (electromyography)
- Nerve conduction test
- TMS (transcranial magnetic stimulation)
- Spinal tap (lumbar puncture)
- Muscle biopsy


There is no way of reversing the progression or curing Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. The treatment is symptomatic and supportive, focusing on making the patient more independent and comfortable.

Riluzole is the only drug specifically targeted for ALS patients. It appears to lower the amount of glutamate in the body, resulting in slower progression of the disease.

Other medications include muscle relaxants, non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs, anti depressants, anti convulsants, etc. Physical therapy with balanced nutritious diet is helpful.

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