What is ALS?

ALS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, is a neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. Also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease or Charcot’s disease, ALS results in the loss of muscle control and the wasting away of muscles. A new case of ALS is diagnosed every 90 minutes, on average, and most cases of ALS occur with no known family history with the disease. While ALS can affect anyone of any age, it is most common in people between the ages of 40 and 70. 

Some early signs of ALS include muscle cramps/twitching, weakness in the extremities, and difficulty speaking. ALS is, however, difficult to diagnose early because its immediate symptoms are shared between other neurological diseases. Your doctor will suggest some tests to run to rule out other possibilities. One test they may suggest to more accurately diagnose you is an electromyogram (EMG) test. If you require EMG testing on Long Island, we at Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation of Long Island are able to provide this examination.


What are the Symptoms of ALS?

Symptoms of ALS can vary for each person, as whichever neurons, or part of the body that is affected drives the symptoms that person exhibits. A few examples of symptoms that are more common for ALS patients are some of the following: 

  • Trouble walking, or constant tripping and falling.
  • Weakness or clumsiness in the extremities, such as your hands, feet, and ankles.
  • Slurred speech or difficulties talking or swallowing.
  • Muscle cramps, spasms, or twitching. Particularly in your arms, legs, shoulders, or tongue.

Symptoms of ALS often start in the extremities of the body and then proceed to spread into other regions. As the disease progresses, nerve cells throughout the body are damaged and destroyed leading to muscle weakness and eventually paralysis. Pain is a rare and uncommon symptom of the disease, and ALS rarely affects your senses. Due to the difficulties with diagnosing this disease early on, your doctor may decide to run a few diagnostic tests to accurately diagnose you. An example of these tests includes EMG Testing on Long Island. If you seek this test, PMRofLI can be contacted for more information.


ALS Diagnostic Tests

To rule out other diseases and diagnose a case of ALS accurately, a few diagnostic tests are typically used. Since early signs of ALS overlap with symptoms of many other conditions and diseases, your doctor may require the use of a few of these tests to reach the right diagnosis. Some examples of the diagnostic tests used can include the following:

  • EMG testing: During this test, an electrode needle is placed into varying muscles through the skin. This needle tests the activity within your muscles when they are at rest and when they are contracted. This test is not only used to diagnose ALS but also guides your exercise therapy if it is diagnosed. For EMG testing on Long Island, contact us.
  • MRI: This imaging test, using magnets and radio waves, gives a detailed picture of your brain and spinal cord. This test can show any tumors, spinal problems, or any other condition that may be yielding your symptoms.
  • Nerve Conduction Study: This test measures your nervous systems’ ability to send impulses and signals throughout your body. Through this, your doctor can determine if you have nerve damage or a nervous system disease.
  • Lumbar Puncture: A small sample of your spinal fluid is extracted, through the use of a small needle between two vertebrae, and it then undergoes laboratory testing.

EMG Testing on Long Island at PMRofLI

As with many other diseases, early and accurate diagnosis of ALS can go a long way to help with your treatment and rehabilitation. While there is currently no cure for ALS, with the right steps in place, patients can live longer and more fulfilling lives with early detection of the disease. If you may be at risk for ALS and/or require EMG Testing on Long Island, reach out to Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation of Long Island today.