Neuromuscular diseases affect the peripheral nervous system – the nerve cells and muscles that carry signals throughout the body and work together to move the body. Symptoms can vary from mild to critical, and include pain, weakness, numbness, cramping, lightheadedness, or muscle atrophy.
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS
- Often called “Lou Gehrig’s disease,” ALS is one of the more common neuromuscular disorders. More than 5,600 people are diagnosed with ALS in the U.S. each year. ALS involves a breakdown of motor neurons that work to control voluntary muscle movements. While there is no cure for the disease, UT Southwestern Medical Center physicians provide the latest therapies and treatments that can help slow the disease’s progress and manage its symptoms. UTSW researchers are conducting both clinical and basic science research to help find a cure for this terrible disease.
- Autonomic disorders
- A diverse group of diseases that affect the automatic functions of the body. When the autonomic nervous system is not working properly, patients can develop a number of symptoms including lightheadedness and fainting, inability to sweat, constipation and bladder problems, and dry mouth. These disorders can be diagnosed with the help of testing which is only available at specialized centers such as UT Southwestern. Effective treatments are available in many cases.
- Muscular dystrophies (MD)
- A group of more than 30 disorders that cause progressive weakness of muscles. While no treatment for reversing the effects of these disorders exists, several treatments and therapies for improving a patient’s outlook can be recommended and directed by UT Southwestern physicians. Our patients can also benefit from multispecialty care supported by the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA). When needed, this includes evaluation by heart and lung doctors as well as physical therapy and recommendation of assistive devices.
- Myasthenia gravis (MG)
- Affects approximately 37,000 people in the U.S. MG is an autoimmune disease that causes muscle weakness and fatigue by interrupting communication between nerve impulses and muscles. Treatments for this disorder include surgical options and medications to improve muscle weakness. Neurologists at UT Southwestern are recognized experts in the diagnosis and treatment of MG and are involved in clinical research studies to evaluate new therapies.
- Peripheral neuropathies (PN)
- A diverse group of disorders that causes damage to nerve fibers. The usual symptoms of PN include numbness of the feet and fingers, weakness, and unsteadiness. Neurologists in the neuromuscular disorders clinic are expert at identifying the cause of PN and recommending effective treatment.
- A group of neuromuscular disorders that may be caused by injury or illness related to the central nervous system. Examples include ataxia, dystonia, Huntington’s disease, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, Parkinson’s disease, and stroke.
In addition to these conditions, the neurologists in the UT Southwestern Neuromuscular Disorders Clinic also treat inflammatory neuropathies (Guillain-Barre Syndrome, CIDP, and others), inflammatory and metabolic myopathies, motor neuron diseases, stiff person syndrome, and many other disorders.