Primary lateral sclerosis disorder usually affects one leg and then progresses to the other. Affected individuals experience involuntary muscle spasms (spasticity) that result in slow, stiff movements of the legs. As a result, affected individuals may have difficulty walking and maintaining balance, may experience cramping of affected muscles, and may appear clumsy.
The more recent numbers 43 patients with PLS and 661 patients with ALS seen over a period of 17 years, results in a presumptive population base of 13,220,000. Factoring an average PLS duration of 20 years, of the 43 PLS patients, approximately one half would be alive at any point in time, giving a prevalence of 1.6 per million, which translates into an incidence rate of 0.8 per 10 million per year and an estimated 400 people with PLS currently living.
Treatment of primary lateral sclerosis involves the use of drugs to help control specific symptoms. Baclofen and tizanidine may be prescribed for spasticity, quinine for cramps, and diazepam, a drug that relaxes muscles, for muscular contractions. Additional treatments may include physical therapy to prevent stiffness of joints, and speech therapy may be needed to aid affected individuals whose ability to speak has been impaired by muscle weakness.