Treatment at Mayo Clinic

By Mayo Clinic Staff

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Aside from the treatment information featured on this page, Mayo Clinic provides all standard treatment options for this condition.

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Doctors with training in neuromuscular conditions (neurologists), physical medicine and rehabilitation specialists, physical and occupational therapists, speech therapists, swallowing disorder specialists, nutrition specialists (dietitians), social workers and other specialists work together as a team to treat many people each year who have Lou Gehrig's disease (ALS). The integrated team is committed to providing for your needs and managing your condition through continuing care and follow-up appointments.

The treatment team meets regularly to discuss the most appropriate care for people who have Lou Gehrig's disease (ALS). Although ALS can't be cured, doctors focus on slowing the progression of your condition, relieving your symptoms, helping you maintain function through rehabilitation and improving your quality of life. The team partners with you and your family to provide care and support.

  • Medications. Your doctor decides whether to manage your condition with medications based on your symptoms and the severity of your condition. Your doctors may prescribe other medications to reduce nerve damage, control muscle spasms and stiffness, and reduce symptoms such as fatigue, pain, sleep disturbances, constipation, and excess saliva and phlegm. You may need several medications.
  • Physical and occupational therapy. In physical therapy, you may perform low-impact exercises such as walking, swimming and stationary-bicycle riding to strengthen your muscles, improve your heart (cardiovascular) health and fight fatigue and depression. You also may perform range-of-motion and stretching exercises to help prevent muscle spasms and cramping and maintain your range of motion. In occupational therapy, you may learn to use assistive devices such as a wheelchair.
  • Speech therapy. Lou Gehrig's disease affects the muscles you use to speak. A speech therapist can teach you how to speak more clearly to be better understood. As your disease progresses, you may learn to use devices such as speech synthesizers and computers to communicate.
  • Assistive devices. Assistive devices can help you maintain as much mobility as possible. Braces can support weakened muscles in your limbs. Canes, walkers and wheelchairs also can help with mobility. As Lou Gehrig's disease weakens muscles you use to breathe, you may need a breathing machine (a mask or a ventilator) to assist with your breathing.
  • Nutritional support. A nutrition specialist can offer you advice about nutritious foods that are easy to swallow. As Lou Gehrig's disease progresses, you may eventually need to have a feeding tube inserted into your stomach for nutrition.
  • Mental health care. As Lou Gehrig's disease progresses, your mind, personality, intelligence, memory and senses usually aren't affected. You're usually aware that you're losing muscle function. Some people become anxious and depressed and benefit from medication and counseling.
  • Family support. Your family members may need help coping with your disease and its challenges. Your treatment team offers various resources, education and information for your family. Also, your family members can ask your treatment team for information about connecting with local ALS support groups.
  • Follow-up care. Mayo Clinic doctors provide coordinated treatment and follow-up care for people who have Lou Gehrig's disease and will work closely with your primary care or local doctor.
April 09, 2014