The word neuromuscular can sound intimidating and foreign in the most medical way possible. In this article we are going to help to explain what neuromuscular conditions are, what to look out for, how severe they are, and what is done to treat them in order to prevent any misunderstanding surronding them and better prepare those who may be dealing with one.
What are Neuromuscular Disorders?
Neuromuscular disorders encompass a broad range of conditions that are usually fairly rare. Neuromuscular disorders are disorders that impair muscle function by either affecting the nerves that directly control muscles or peripheral nerves and neuromuscular junctions involving them. Death or degrading health of the nerves can lead to the muscles becoming weak and wasting away. Neuromuscular disorders are also often genetic, so it is important to be aware of your family’s history with these conditions if you suspect you may have one. Common neuromuscular disorders include spinal muscular atrophy, multiple sclerosis, and Motor Neuron Disease
Symptoms of Neuromuscular Disorders
Due to the different types of neuromuscular conditions, it can be difficult creating an exhaustive list of symptoms. Most commonly, these conditions are signalled by overall muscle weakness which can lead to cramps, twitching, and pain. Other symptoms include a loss of muscle control, fatigue, difficulties swallowing and breathing, and changes in facial appearance.
If you suspect you may have a neuromuscular condition it is important to seek further medical consultation. To test for these conditions a doctor will most likely begin by questioning you about your symptoms now and in the past, as well as general health condition questions. From there, more specific examinations can be given that assess the neuromuscular and musculoskeleton systems. Various tests can also be adminestered to find which specific condition is present, as well as genetic tests to see if there is any likelihood of having pre-existing genetic conditions. If any condition is confirmed your doctor will begin developing a treatment plan with you.
An unfortunate reality of neuromuscular conditions is that they almost never have cures currently. Treatment is centered around managing the condition, and in the most severe cases, prolonging life. Physical therapy and exercise have been shown to potentially help in managing neuromuscular conditions, but in general these require large amounts of care and support after diagnosis. Respiratory services, orthotics, wheelchairs, and other treatments can help lessen the pain associated with the development of disorders. It is important for patients who have been diagnoses with neuromuscular conditions to receive care from trained specialists and providers, so that they can live the most comfortable and pleasant life possible.