Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, is also referred to as Lou Gherrig's disease, after the famous baseball player who died of this disorder. This disease produces the gradual loss of muscle function due to the breakdown of neurons, or nerve cells, involved with movement, in the spinal cord. This noncancerous disease displays symptoms often confused with the neurological complications of Lyme disease. It is not contagious and involves the central nervous system and, secondarily, the muscular system The areas most commonly and severely affected include the hands, forearms, legs, head and neck.
Causes of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
The cause of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is unknown.
Signs and Symptoms of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
Symptoms usually start in the hands and spread to the arms and legs. These symptoms include: muscle twitching, weakness, cramps, stiffening and spasticity. Eventually it will affect the muscles that control breathing and swallowing. There is unexplained weight loss, slurring of speech and sudden involuntary bursts of laughter or crying. Mental acuity usually remains intact.
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Medical Content Last Updated on 07/12/2008
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