Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), sometimes called Lou Gehrig's disease, is a rapidly progressive, invariably fatal neurological disease that attacks the nerve cells (neurons) responsible for controlling voluntary muscles (muscle action we are able to control, such as those in the arms, legs, and face). The disease belongs to a group of disorders known as motor neuron diseases, which are characterized by the gradual degeneration and death of motor neurons.
Symptoms: The onset of ALS may be so subtle that the symptoms are overlooked. The earliest symptoms may include fasciculations, cramps, tight and stiff muscles (spasticity), muscle weakness affecting an arm or a leg, slurred and nasal speech, or difficulty chewing or swallowing.
The statistics on amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) show it to be the world’s most common neuromuscular disorder. It affects people regardless of ethnic background, most commonly appearing between ages 40 and 70, and more often in men than in women. ALS develops differently in each individual, and people respond differently to therapy, so patients and families should draw expectations based on their own experience and the expertise of the neurological professionals helping them.