ABC Medical Center > Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

What is Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis?

21:54 - 4 May , 2021


It is an incurable and deadly degenerative neurological condition in which the motor neurons of the brain and spinal cord stop sending messages to the muscles, which progressively weaken and atrophy, and can affect the pectoral muscles, making it difficult to breathe and causing fatal respiratory failure.

The origin of this disease is unknown, which, in addition to motor neurons, also affects the spinal cord. However, some research indicates that there is a hereditary genetic relationship and a link with frontal lobe degeneration, as a possible risk factor.

Likewise, studies indicate that men between 45 and 60 years old, who smoke, and with a history of viral infections, are more likely to suffer from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, an incurable disease that begins with the loss of muscle strength in the arms and legs.

Signs and symptoms Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

Symptoms develop progressively according to the progress of the disease, the most frequent being:

  • Spasms and muscle cramps.
  • Lack of motor coordination.
  • Depression.
  • Speech difficulties.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Facial paralysis.
  • Decreased body weight.
  • Tiredness and weakness.
  • Swallowing problems.
  • Hoarseness.
  • Behavioral changes.
  • In advanced stages, total paralysis.
  • Respiratory failure.

It is important to mention that cognitive ability, sensitivity, sphincter control, sexual function, and the five senses are never affected by the progression of the disease, which is irregular because it can progress differently in each specific case.

Diagnosis and treatment Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

Once the doctor analyzes your symptoms and clinical history, they will perform a physical examination and a series of complete neurological tests to rule out conditions and confirm the diagnosis, including:

  • Biopsy of the muscles and nerves.
  • Blood and urine tests.
  • Electromyograms to detect if nerves or muscles are working improperly.
  • Cervical spine myelogram.
  • Blood tests.
  • Lumbar puncture.
  • MRI.

There is no specialized treatment for this condition, but your doctor may prescribe some drugs to control the symptoms and slow their progression or prescribe the use of orthopedic devices to walk or perform other activities.

Similarly, support therapies can significantly help improve your quality of life, such as:

  • Physiotherapy and rehabilitation that can help with muscle contractures, constipation, and insomnia.
  • Occupational therapy.
  • Speech therapy.
  • Psychotherapy.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is a condition that must be addressed by a multidisciplinary medical team made up of neurologists, physiotherapists, psychologists, occupational therapists, pulmonologists, and gastroenterologists, among others.

At the Neurological Center, a select group of highly trained and certified doctors in the various neurological specialties are ready to assist you with the quality and warmth that characterizes us.

Nervous system specialties

  • Neurology
  • Neurosurgery
  • Spine surgery
  • Pediatric neurosurgery
  • Neurophysiology
  • Neuro-rehabilitation
  • Neuro-pathology
  • Interventional neuro-radiology
  • Neuropsychology
  • Neuro-oncology
  • Neuro-otology
  • Epilepsy
  • Neuro-ophthalmology
  • Neuroimaging


  • alsa.org
  • nidcd.nih.gov
  • topdoctors.es
  • mayocilinic.org
  • medlineplus.gov
  • msdmanuals.com
  • medigraphic.com
  • Lara FGE, Scull TM, Zaldivar VT, et al. Esclerosis Lateral Amiotrófica, eficacia de su manejo multidisciplinar Instituto de Neurología y Neurocirugía. 2005-2017. Cuba y Salud. 2020;15(3):12-18.
  • Abal-Monteagudo R, Da Cuña-Carrera I, Alonso-Calvete A, et al. Fisioterapia respiratoria en pacientes con Esclerosis Lateral Amiotrófica. Una revisión sistemática. Arch Neurocien. 2020;25(4):9-22.
  • Charpentier MRJ, Loaiza QKV. Manejo clínico inicial de la esclerosis lateral amiotrófica. Revista Médica Sinergia. 2021;6(02):1-12.
  • Cervantes-Aragón I, Ramírez-García SA, Baltazar-Rodríguez LM, et al. Aproximación genética en la esclerosis lateral amiotrófica. Gac Med Mex. 2019;155(5):513-521.

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