How We Treat Neuromuscular Disorders
While some neuromuscular disorders cannot be cured, we can control and relieve symptoms to improve your quality of life. Depending on your disease, your treatment could include one or more of the following treatments:
We treat some neuromuscular disorders with medications or other treatments that reduce symptoms or slow the progression of the disease, such as:
- Riluzole (Rilutek®) for people with ALS
- Medications to relieve muscle cramps, stiffness, and excess saliva
- Plasmapheresis, in which we filter abnormal antibodies from the blood, to treat Guillain-Barre syndrome and myasthenia gravis
- High-dose immunoglobulin therapy(IVIg), which involves infusions of immune proteins from healthy donors, to treat Guillain-Barre syndrome, chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP), inflammatory myopathies, and myasthenia gravis
- Medications (such as neostigmine and pyridostigmine) to improve the transmission of nerve impulses and increase muscle strength in people with myasthenia gravis
- Drugs that suppress the immune system (such as prednisone, mycophenylate mofetil, and azathioprine) to treat myasthenia gravis
- Drugs to relieve pain and muscle weakness in people with myopathy or neuropathy
- Minimally invasive surgery for myasthenia gravis: Our thoracic surgeons are experts in performing an innovative surgery for myasthenia gravis, using robotic surgery to remove the thymus. Symptoms improve in as many as 70 percent of people, many of whom are cured. These improvements may occur months to years after surgery. This operation is most effective in people under age 60 and those experiencing the earliest stages of myasthenia gravis.
- Minimally invasive surgery for neuropathy: If you have neuropathy caused by pressure on a nerve, our surgeons can sometimes perform a procedure to alleviate that pressure. Our neurosurgeons are highly skilled at performing these procedures.
Our researchers are conducting studies to better understand the causes of neuromuscular disorders and to develop more effective therapies. You may be able to participate in a clinical trial of a new treatment. Current clinical trials are now ongoing to evaluate new therapies for chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy, diabetic neuropathy, and familial amyloid polyneuropathy; to assess the use of the drugs rasagiline, tirasemtive, and mexilitine to reduce symptoms in people with ALS; and to assess bone marrow transplantation in patients with mitochondrial neurogastrointestinal encephalomyopathy(MNGIE).
People with neuromuscular disorders may become very weak. Physical and occupational therapy are important for helping you regain or maintain your ability to perform daily activities. Our rehabilitation specialists work with you to:
- Evaluate your muscle strength and motor skills
- Develop an individualized program to maintain or improve your motor function
- Recommend devices (such as neck supports, canes, walkers, and wheelchairs) and equipment for your home to ensure your safety and mobility
- Discuss ways to modify your activities, conserve your energy, and simplify your work