Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a neurological disorder that is characterized by the progressive loss of motor neurons or nerve cells that control voluntary muscle movements.

One prominent problem for ALS patients is muscle weakness. This affects their ability to perform everyday tasks, such as walking, speaking, and eating. It can also make chewing and swallowing difficult, and result in impaired breathing.

Other muscle problems include twitches, cramps, spasms, pain, and stiffness (spasticity). Some patients may experience tremor-like symptoms, which is the result of muscle failure when muscles are pushed to their limit.

Management of muscular symptoms

Muscle relaxants and anticonvulsants can be used for the treatment of muscle cramps, spasms, and spasticity. They include baclofen, diazepam, tizanidine, gabapentin, benzodiazepines, carbamazepine, and dantrolene.

Cyclobenzaprine and metaxalone can also be used when other muscle relaxants are not well-tolerated.

Mexiletine, a medication that is usually used to treat irregular heartbeat, can help with muscle cramps.

Dysport is an agent that blocks nerve activity in muscles and can relieve muscle spasms, stiffness, or spasticity.

The experimental medication Reldesemtiv is designed to improve muscle function in ALS patients.

In addition to medical treatment, physiotherapy can help strengthen muscles. A physical therapist can offer exercise regimens that may help resolve muscle cramps.

Occupational therapy helps patients learn adaptive strategies to overcome the difficulties that are caused by muscle problems.

Additional information

The U. S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the medications Radicava and Tiglutik, which is designed to prevent nerve damage and the progression of ALS. It has been shown that Radicava can slow the progression of ALS, as measured by the ALS functional rating scale-revised that includes motor symptoms, among others. Tiglutik is known to increase the survival rate of ALS patients. However, there is no evidence that the medication has a therapeutic effect on motor function.

***

ALS News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.