Neuromuscular Disorder

A diagnosis of a neuromuscular disorder can come with many challenges and questions. Whether you are newly diagnosed or have been living with a neuromuscular condition for some time, MaineHealth is here to provide you with compassionate and high quality care.

Neuromuscular disorders affect both your nerves and muscles.  Usually there is a problem with the way your nervous system communicates to your muscles. This results in twitching, cramps, aches, muscle weakening and movement problems.

Sometimes neuromuscular disorders can impact your heart or your breathing. There are many types of neuromuscular disorders including:

  • Multiple sclerosis

  • ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease)

  • Spinal muscular atrophy

  • Myasthenia gravis

There are treatments that can help improve symptoms and lengthen life.

What causes neuromuscular disorders?

Some neuromuscular disorders have no known cause. Others are caused by genetic mutations passed down in your family. Still others are caused by an infection or immune system response.

How are neuromuscular disorders diagnosed?

Doctors who specialize in the nervous system are called neurologists. They can diagnose neuromuscular disorders. Usually a neurologist will do a physical exam first to look for muscle strength, reflexes and ability to feel sensations.  

A blood test can measure levels of chemicals in your blood that are often found with neuromuscular disorders. A test called an electromyography (EMG) can also help diagnose neuromuscular disorders. This test looks at the health of your nerve cells and your muscles.

What is the treatment for neuromuscular disorders?

Treatment depends on the type of neuromuscular disorder. Some common options include:

  • Medication

  • Surgery

  • Physical, occupational or speech therapy

  • Pain management

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