ALS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is a neurological disease that affects tens of thousands of people in the United States. Every year, an additional five thousand people receive an ALS diagnosis. Commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease, ALS occurs when the nerves begin to break down, making every day activities and movement difficult.
Correctly arriving at an ALS diagnosis can take some time as the symptoms of the disease are common to a number of autoimmune diseases. In order to diagnose a person with ALS, a number of tests may be conducted including:
- Electromyogram – Commonly referred to as an EMG, this diagnostic test allows doctors to evaluate the amount of electrical activity your muscles receive at different states. This is done by inserting a needle with an electrode directly into the muscle. This test can provide an ALS diagnosis or can indicate a different issue with the nerve or muscles.
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging – Known by the acronym MRI, this test is used to take a look at the nerves, brain, and spinal cord. This test is often used to rule out other issues that may be causing symptoms that mimic ALS.
- Blood Work and Urinalysis – By analyzing your blood and urine, doctors are able to determine if there are other underlying issues that may be causing your symptoms. Results that are outside of the normal limits provide key insight as to what is going on in your body.
- Nerve Conduction Study – Your brain and nervous system send messages back and forth using electric pulses. A nerve conduction study analyzes these electric transmissions to determine if there is an issue with the nerves or within the muscles.
- Biopsy – Because the symptoms of ALS are similar to many muscle diseases, a biopsy of the muscle may be done. To do this, a small portion of muscle is removed surgically in order to be analyzed.
- Spinal Tap – The fluid that surrounds your spine has a number of key functions. This fluid can also identify a number of health issues. One way to diagnose an issue is to analyze this fluid in a lab. Retrieving the fluid is done with a long needle during an outpatient procedure.
For additional information on your ALS diagnosis or to learn about treatment options, contact the team at NY Neurology Associates. Book an appointment online or simply call 212-987-0100.