Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Treatment in SC
Neurology Care in South Carolina
What is Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis?
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also called ALS, is a disease of the nervous system that attacks nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. ALS makes it hard to move your muscles, and over time, the disease gets worse.
Symptoms of ALS
Different people with ALS have different symptoms. The symptoms depend on which nerve cells are damaged. Most people with ALS start with weak muscles that spread and get worse over time. Some of the symptoms may include:
- Problems walking or doing other everyday things
- Tripping and falling
- Leg, foot, and joint weakness
- Weak hands or clumsiness
- Speech that is not clear or trouble swallowing
- Muscle cramps and twitches in the arms, shoulders, and tongue can cause weakness
- Not knowing when to cry, laugh, or yawn
- Changes in how you think or how you act
ALS usually starts in the arms, legs, hands, or feet. The disease then moves to other parts of the body and muscles get weaker as more nerve cells die. This will finally make it hard to chew, swallow, speak, and breathe.
Treatments can’t fix the damage caused by ALS, but they can slow how fast the symptoms get worse. They can also keep you from getting sick and help you feel more relaxed and independent.
For your care, you might need a team of doctors who are skilled in many areas. The team works together to help you live longer and make your life better.
Treatments may include these or a combination:
- Medications – There are specific medications the FDA approved for helping slow the progression of this condition. You may also get medications to help with relief of other symptoms like:
- Muscle spasms
- Sleeping issues
- Leg swelling
- Breathing care – As their muscles weaken, most people with ALS have more trouble breathing over time. Your doctor might check your breathing often and give you “mechanical ventilation”, which helps you breathe at night
- Physical therapy – A physical therapist can help with pain, walking, moving around, balancing, and getting the tools you need to stay on your own. Simple workouts can help you keep your heart healthy, your muscles strong, and your range of motion as long as possible
- Occupational therapy – Even if your hands and arms are weak, an occupational therapist can help you find ways to stay on your own. Adaptive tools can help you do things like get dressed, brush your teeth, eat, and take a bath
- Speech therapy – A speech therapist can teach you ways to change your speech so that it is easier to understand. Therapists can also help you come up with other ways to talk, like an app on your phone, a letter board, or a pen and paper
ALS Care in South Carolina
If you have any of the above symptoms, call us at Carolina Orthopaedic & Neurosurgical Associates and we will do what it takes to get you on a treatment plan that works for you. Set up a meeting with one of our Neurologists at any of our locations.