Neuromuscular disease affects how your muscles function. Progressive neuromuscular conditions may cause twitching, cramps, pain, movement problems and breathing issues. Geisinger offers the latest medications to improve symptoms, increase mobility and lengthen life.
Many neuromuscular conditions are caused by an immune disorder. Some conditions are also genetic, such as muscular dystrophy. When neuromuscular issues are caused by another condition, such as diabetes, we partner with other specialists to offer treatment.
What you should know about a neuromuscular disease
- A neurologist will often refer patients who complain of muscle weakness, numbness and tingly sensations to a neuromuscular specialist. We then run a series of tests on your muscles to learn what the problem is and what might be causing it.
- Neuromuscular disease covers a wide variety of conditions, including:
- Peripheral neuropathy, which is weakness, numbness and pain in the hands or feet
- Muscular dystrophy, which is a type of muscle disease that breaks down and weakens muscles over time
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, which is a rapidly progressive neurological disease that attacks the nerve cells responsible for controlling voluntary muscles
- Myasthenia gravis, which causes weakness and fatigue in voluntary muscles
- Myopathy, which causes a loss of muscle strength because of dysfunction of the muscle fibers
Why choose Geisinger for care of neuromuscular disease?
- Subspecialty training in neuromuscular disease: Our neurologists are board certified in neuromuscular medicine, with subspecialty training in neuromuscular disorders. Neuromuscular medicine is highly specialized, and our specialists are trained to handle the less common types of neuromuscular disease.
- EMG accreditation: Electromyography (EMG) is a test that evaluates the health of your muscles and how well they respond to the signals from your brain (motor neurons) to move. Geisinger has the highest level of accreditation to perform EMG from the American Association of Neuromuscular & Electrodiagnostic Medicine. This accreditation increases the quality of the EMG study because it means we have specialized experience in performing EMG.
- Biopsy capability: Within our neurology and neurosurgery program, we have the ability to do biopsies. This is more convenient for patients, who can get the procedure done immediately, versus setting up multiple appointments. A biopsy is a small sample of tissue that we examine under a microscope to help us diagnose a condition.
- Muscle and nerve biopsies: Neurosurgeons perform these, and we have a neuropathologist who reads them here on site.
- Skin biopsies: We perform these in the office as a same-day minor surgical procedure.
- MDA and ALS management: We are recognized as a Muscular Dystrophy Association and an ALS Association clinical site for approved care and research trials. We have specialty clinics for both MDA and ALS located in Geisinger Medical Center, Geisinger Bloomsburg Hospital and Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center, where patients can see all specialists in one location during a single visit. In addition to neuromuscular doctors, patients can see a nutritionist, a physical therapist, a pulmonologist and a speech therapist. Patient and families can also learn about mobility devices, such as wheelchairs.
- Offer latest drug therapies: We work closely with a pharmacist who helps monitor medication to keep patients safe. We have the latest medicines for ALS (including one that’s newly FDA-approved). Our colleagues in genetic testing help diagnose specific types of neuromuscular disease. This allows us to provide the newest medications when they become available for certain genetic mutations, such as Duchenne muscular dystrophy.