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 characterizing highlight of ALS is the demise of both upper and lower engine neurons in the engine cortex of the cerebrum, the mind stem, and the spinal string. Before their pulverization, engine neurons create protein-rich incorporations in their cell bodies and axons.
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. These general complaints then develop into more obvious weakness or atrophy that may cause a physician to suspect ALS. No one test can provide a definitive diagnosis of ALS, although the presence of upper and lower motor neuron signs is strongly suggestive.
The incidence rates calculated from patients enrolled in population-based registries of ALS are fairly homogeneous, ranging from 1.7 to 2.3 cases per 100,000 per year. There are several reasons for the higher and more homogeneous incidence rates of ALS, as reported in these population-based registries.