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Types of Neuromuscular Disorders and their Symptoms

Neuromuscular DisordersNeuromuscular disorders include a wide range of diseases affecting the peripheral nervous system (which controls the voluntary muscles and nerves that communicate sensory information back to the brain). Progressive muscle weakness is one of the most common symptoms associated with a neuromuscular disease. Some neuromuscular conditions are present at birth, while some manifest in childhood and others have an adult onset. Leading healthcare centers in Brooklyn, NYC offer effective treatment modalities that help reverse symptoms of muscle weakness and other movement/balance issues.

Types of Neuromuscular Diseases

  • Motor neuron diseases involve nerve cells in the spinal cord. Examples include amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), pseudo bulbar palsy, spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) and Kennedy’s disease.
  • Muscle disorders are a group of disorders involving the structure of the muscle cells, for e.g., myopathies, muscular dystrophies and myotonic disorders.
  • Neuromuscular junction disorders involve dysfunction at location where nerves connect with muscles. Examples include: Lambert-Eaton Syndrome, myasthenic syndromes and myasthenia gravis.
  • Diabetic neuropathy is nerve damage caused by diabetes
  • Peripheral neuropathy involves damage to the peripheral nerves, causing weakness, numbness and pain (usually in hands, feet and arms)
  • Other neuromuscular disorders: ataxias, cramp-fasciculation syndrome and stiff-person syndrome

Symptoms

Symptoms may vary from mild to severe and will depend on the type of neuromuscular disorder and the areas of the body that are affected. Common symptoms include –

  • Muscle weakness (that can lead to twitching, cramps, aches and pain)
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Numbness, tingling or painful sensations
  • Muscle loss
  • Movement and balance problems
  • Droopy eyelids
  • Double vision
  • Breathing difficulties

Diagnosis and Treatment Modalities

Initial diagnosis starts with a detailed clinical observation to identify patient reflexes, loss of muscle tone, and other symptoms. Diagnostic imaging tests such as electromyography (EMG), MRI scan, nerve conduction studies, muscle biopsies, and genetic testing along with blood tests may be conducted to diagnose the disorder. Nonsurgical treatment modalities recommended would include –

  • Medications – Anticonvulsants, antidepressants (for pain) and immunosuppressants (for autoimmune disorders) are used to treat the pain of neuropathy.
  • Supportive treatments – Supportive treatment modalities include – physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy. Physical therapy includes stretching, strengthening and aerobic exercise programs that help improve muscle stiffness and strength.
  • Patient and family education and counseling – This may include referral to appropriate support groups or genetic counselors.

In professional multispecialty healthcare centers, a skilled team of professionals comprising a neurologist, pain management doctors, respiratory and rehabilitation therapists, dietitians, and orthopedists provide specialized care for various types of neuromuscular conditions.

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