Neuromuscular diseases are disorders that affect the peripheral nervous system. The peripheral nervous system includes muscles, the nerve-muscle (neuromuscular) junction, peripheral nerves in the limbs and the motor nerve cells in the spinal cord.
These disorders include:
- Cerebral palsy
- Muscular dystrophies
- Peripheral neuropathies
Cerebral palsy is generally diagnosed from soon after birth up to a child’s preschool years and is caused by abnormal development of the immature brain. Babies and infants diagnosed with cerebral palsy may have weakness, exaggerated reflexes, rigidity or stiffness of muscles, and involuntary movements. They may not meet their developmental milestones on time and could have issues with intellectual disabilities, hearing and vision problems, and seizures. A wide range of treatments from various medical specialties will be needed to improve your child’s functional capabilities. Children with severe contractures or deformities may need surgery on bones or joints and/or surgery to lengthen muscles and tendons that are proportionally too short. These corrections can lessen pain, improve mobility and make it easier to use a walker, braces or crutches.
Muscular dystrophy is a group of genetic diseases in which muscle fibers are unusually susceptible to damage. These damaged muscles become progressively weaker. Most people who have muscular dystrophy will eventually need to use a wheelchair. There are many different kinds of muscular dystrophy. Symptoms of the most common variety begin in childhood, primarily in boys. Other types of muscular dystrophy don’t surface until adulthood. People who have muscular dystrophy may have trouble breathing or swallowing. Their limbs may also draw inward and become fixed in that position—a problem called contracture. Some varieties of the disease can also affect the heart and other organs. While there is no cure for muscular dystrophy, medications and therapy can slow the course of the disease.
Myelomeningocele, the most severe form of spina bifida, is a condition where the baby’s spinal cord and its coverings protrude through an opening in the skin of the back. The membranes and spinal cord protrude and form a sac. Tissues and nerves are usually exposed, however, which can leave the child prone to life-threatening infections. It can lead to many orthopedic problems, such as scoliosis, deformed feet and uneven hips, which we can treat individually. Surgery on the spinal defect usually occurs 24 to 48 hours after birth.
Peripheral neuropathy, a result of nerve damage, often causes numbness and pain in your hands and feet. People typically describe the pain of peripheral neuropathy as tingling or burning, while they may compare the loss of sensation to the feeling of wearing a thin stocking or glove. Peripheral neuropathy can result from problems such as traumatic injuries, infections, metabolic problems and exposure to toxins. One of the most common causes is diabetes. In many cases, peripheral neuropathy symptoms improve with time—especially if the condition is caused by an underlying condition that can be treated. A number of medications often are used to reduce the painful symptoms of peripheral neuropathy.