ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, is a progressive neurological disease that affects the nerves in your brain and spinal cord. It will weaken muscles and have an impact on physical function.
You may be afraid and anxious as you think you have gotten ALS because you have the ALS symptoms like twitches, cramps, stiffness, weakness, wasting, or numbness in your muscle.
Don’t panic as there are many reasons that can lead to the above ALS symptoms, and here are 7 signs that you probably don’t have ALS.
1. Your Muscle Function is Normal
ALS is a disease of the motor neurons, which control your muscles. If you’re not experiencing any muscle weakness or loss of coordination, then it’s unlikely that you have ALS. In fact, muscle function is the best way to differentiate ALS from other neurological disorders and diseases.
You may worry about twitching, a common symptom of ALS, but that’s no problem if your muscle function is normal. Twitching is common and may be caused by physical activity, stress, or other medical conditions such as benign fasciculation syndrome (BFS).
2. You Don’t Have Clinical Weakness
Clinical weakness is a hallmark symptom of ALS. The clinical weakness is not the weakness you’re thinking that “I feel weak” but it is a visible and measurable weakness.
It’s a kind of weakness that can be seen in physical examination, such as difficulty to lift the arm or leg above the head or not being able to move your toes. If you don’t experience this kind of visible and measurable weakness, then you likely don’t have ALS.
You may experience dropping things often during a time, like dropping a cup of coffee or spilling food while eating. This may be caused by nervousness, your body is in panic and you can’t control your hands.
You may easily exaggerate these minor incidents and think you have ALS, but this doesn’t necessarily mean you have the disease.
3. You Don’t Have Real Atrophy
Keep in mind that our left and right hands and legs are not symmetrical. One day, when you stare at your fingers and palms, you notice there are atrophies circular little/lines on the left side that you haven’t seen before. You may go to think that’s not normal. You may take it seriously and think you have got atrophy.
However, you didn’t know what it looks like years ago, or it probably has existed for your whole life as you didn’t look at and study clearly before.
A real sign of atrophy would be the visible wasting away of the muscle in your body over time. It couldn’t be atrophy because you can still move your hands and do everything as usual.
If your hands had actually atrophied, they would not be working since the muscle would be wasted, and you can’t utilize a muscle that has been wasted.
4. You’re Less Than 60 Years Old
Although Stephen Hawking was diagnosed with ALS at the age of 21, it is still rare to have ALS at such a young age. If your age is less than 60 and twitching is the only symptom, then you are very unlikely to have ALS. Maybe you experience twitches at a young age, but that may be caused by your anxiety or fasciculation syndrome.
5. Vitamin Deficiency
A vitamin deficiency can also cause twitches. A lack of Vitamin D can cause muscle pain and cramping, so if you are lacking in this vitamin, you may want to take a supplement or eat more foods that contain it.
6. You’re Anxious Individuals
As you may know, anxiety influences the nervous system and might trigger twitches by disrupting signals going from the brain to the muscles.
Twitches due to anxiety can occur anywhere in the body, but they are most common in the face, arms, and hands. If your twitches are accompanied by extreme stress or fear then it is likely that they are being caused by anxiety.
7. Just Health Anxiety
You may be obsessed and anxious about your health and think that every minor symptom like ALS symptoms is a sign of getting ALS.
This condition is known as “health anxiety” or “hypochondria”. If you are constantly worrying about your health, then it is likely that your twitches and other symptoms are being caused by this disorder rather than any actual physical ailment.
If you’re still worried about having ALS after all these signs, don’t hesitate to see a doctor for further evaluation.
You cannot diagnose ALS by yourself and a diagnosis of ALS can take a long time. Even if you have multiple ALS symptoms like muscle twitching and weakness, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have ALS.
There are many other conditions that can cause these symptoms, so you must see a doctor and get a proper diagnosis if you suspect you have this disease.
ALS is a diagnostic of exclusion, which means that other disorders with symptoms similar to ALS are tested for and ruled out, leaving only ALS as a diagnosis. You lack the necessary diagnostic tools and education.
Your neurologist may run several tests like electromyography (EMG), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or a lumbar puncture to rule out ALS. A diagnosis of ALS can take a long time and require extensive testing.