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Neuromuscular Disease FAQ

What is a neuromuscular disease?

Neuromuscular diseases are rare acquired or inherited conditions that cause progressive deterioration of some part of the neuromuscular system such as:
  • Muscles
  • Peripheral motor nerves (arms, legs, neck and face)
  • The junction where nerves and muscles meet
  • Muscle-controlling nerve cells in the spinal cord

How is a neuromuscular disease diagnosed?

We use an electromyogram (EMG) test to detect abnormal electrical activity in muscles that have been affected by a disease or condition. In the first part of the test, electrical stimulation is applied using electrodes to assess the function of the nerves. That is followed by a needle study to evaluate muscle function.

In addition to the EMG, a neurologic exam, blood tests and, if indicated, a muscle biopsy will help your physician determine the cause of your neuromuscular weakness.

How are neuromuscular diseases treated?

Although researchers are hard at work developing genetic and drug therapies, there is not yet a cure for some neuromuscular diseases. However certain medical interventions and drug treatments can help alleviate or reverse symptoms of some diseases, increasing life span and improving quality of life.

For many neuromuscular diseases—such as inflammatory myopathies, chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyradiculoneuropathy (CIDP) and myasthenia gravis—immunosuppressive treatments are available that can improve symptoms. They also may treat the underlying condition.

Do you offer clinical trials?

Yes, our UCI Health neuromuscular specialists, working at Orange County’s only university medical center, have many clinical trials under way that focus on a range of neuromuscular diseases, including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), myasthenia gravis, chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP) and Pompe disease.

View our clinical trials ›

Do you offer supportive services?

Yes, our multidisciplinary UCI Health ALS & Neuromuscular Center provides many types of services for patients with neuromuscular disorders. Our healthcare specialists include physical therapists, respiratory therapists, speech and swallowing therapists, social workers and a Muscular Dystrophy Association representative who can provide support and information to you and your family members.

For more information or to schedule a consultation, please call us at 714-456-2332.
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