Munson Health
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

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by Carson-DeWitt R

(ALS; Lou Gehrig's Disease; Motor Neuron Disease)



You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. There are no tests that can diagnose ALS. Tests may be used to rule out other medical conditions.
Images may be taken of your bodily structures. This can be done with:
Your bodily fluids and tissues may be tested. This can be done with:
  • Blood tests
  • Lumbar puncture
  • Biopsy
Your muscles and nerves may be evaluated. This can be done with electromyogram (EMG)/nerve conduction velocities (NCV).
Your cognitive skills may be assessed. This can be done with neuropsychological testing.


There is currently no cure for ALS.
Treatment may help to reduce or manage symptoms. A combination of treatments may work best. This may include:
Treatment options include:


The drug riluzole has been approved for ALS. The drug may slightly improve functioning, but it does not stop the disease from progressing.
You may be prescribed these medicines for symptoms:
  • Muscle relaxants reduce spasticity
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and other pain medications
  • Atropine, scopolamine, botulinum toxin, antihistamine—To reduce heavy drooling
  • Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications
  • A combination of dextromethorphan and quinidine—To treat inappropriate laughter or crying

Other Types of Treatments

Supportive care may be needed as ALS progresses, including:
  • Physical therapy—To reduce pain associated with muscle cramping and spasticity
  • Respiratory care—In some cases, you may need to receive a mixture of air and oxygen from a machine. A device may also be used that helps your breathing muscles contract. If you cannot move enough air in and out of your lungs, you may need surgery to have a tube inserted into your airway.
  • Nutritional care—Your doctor may make changes to your diet. In some cases, getting nutrition through tube feeding is needed.
  • Speech therapy—Speech therapy may be used to optimize communication. Therapy may include exploring alternate methods of communication.


ALS Association

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke



ALS Society of British Columbia

ALS Society of Canada



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