All About ALS

ALS stands for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. It’s also called the Lou Gehrig’s disease, named after a player of the New York Yankees. It’s an incurable disease that attacks the nervous system, causing loss of muscle control. Awareness of it gained a lot of traction in 2014 with the ice bucket challenge. The challenge went viral on social media and garnered support from many celebrities and patients alike.

crop orthopedist examining back of anonymous patient in clinic

Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of ALS vary from person to person but there are a group of things that are common amongst most patients. ALS attacks the brain and spine so how it manifests within you depends on which neurons were affected. They might include:

  • Difficult walking
  • Frequent trips and falls
  • Weakness in your legs, feet or ankles
  • Clumsiness
  • Slurred speech
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Muscle cramps and twitching
  • Inappropriate crying or laughing
  • Excessive yawning
  • Sudden behavioral changes

The hands are feet are usually affected first and breathing last. Contrary to popular belief, there’s usually little to no pain associated with this disease. Usually when pain occurs there’s another known or unknown disease underlying.

Causes and Risk Factors of ALS

Clinical research leads us to believe that around 10% of patients with ALS inherited it from a relative. Aside from that theory, the cause is widely unknown. We do however, know that certain other things put you at risk. Being between the ages of 40 and 65, a male and having ALS put you at the highest risk. This disease can also be triggered by things like smoking tobacco and traumatic injuries.

Prognosis

ALS is a degenerative disease, meaning symptoms get worse over time. As it progresses, several complications arise that lead to death. ALS paralyzes the muscles needed to breathe which causes sleep apnea. The vocals cords eventually become paralyzed too, causing slurred speech then mutism. The muscles required for swallowing get damaged which increases the likeliness that food and liquid can enter the lungs.

Medical Marijuana and ALS

This disease cannot be cured but medical marijuana eases symptoms to give patients a better quality of life. Marijuana helps slow down denigration of the muscles, helps improve the quality of sleep and helps bring back the patients appetite to ward off muscle atrophy and malnutrition; both of which are results of ALS.

Marijuana strains that help with associated muscle problems include:

  • Arctic Blue: This indica-dominant strain relieves anxiety and promotes a good night’s sleep along with helping with muscle stiffness.
  • Super Sour OG: This hybrid strain is 50/50, combining the best qualities of both. It relaxes and uplifts you along with loosening the muscles and relieving pain.
  • Blue Wreck: This sativa-dominant hybrid strain also makes you feel clear-headed and euphoric.

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