Last updated 1 year ago
A CLOSER LOOK AT Lou Gehrig’s Disease
Eddie Patton Jr., M.D., Neurologist
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease — named after a famous Yankee baseball player afflicted with the condition — is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the spinal cord and brain. It is a rare disorder that eventually destroys the motor neurons throughout the body and the brain’s ability to control muscle movement. ALS is one of several diseases under the umbrella of motor neuron diseases.
“ALS is a devastating disease,” says Eddie Patton Jr., M.D., board-certified neurologist with Methodist Sugar Land Neurology Associates. “It can strike anyone and has no racial, ethnic or socioeconomic boundaries. Although there is no known cure, studies show that an antiglutamate drug treatment can help slow the progression of ALS in early stages of the disease. Though medical treatments are limited, there are treatment options available to manage symptoms and increase the quality of life for patients and their caregivers.”
SYMPTOMS OF THE DISEASE
Initial symptoms of ALS are often so minimal they are easily overlooked. As the illness progresses, the following symptoms may appear with various degrees of severity:
- Weakness in hand, arm, leg or speech muscles
- Twitching or cramping of muscles
- Difficulty using the legs and arms
- Voice projection becomes weaker
- Swallowing or breathing may be difficult
“It’s important to note that not every person will experience the same symptoms and the rate of progression will also vary from person to person,” Dr. Patton says. “A plateau in patient’s symptoms can occur, but overall, progressive muscle weakness and eventual paralysis are expected outcomes.”
Since ALS attacks the motor neurons exclusively, the senses of sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell remain normal. However, once the muscles used to breathe are affected, permanent ventilator support is necessary if the patient chooses.
DIAGNOSIS CAN BE DIFFICULT
The cause of ALS is not entirely understood, making diagnosis difficult. Through a series of clinical examinations and diagnostic tests, other diseases that have similar symptoms to ALS can be ruled out. A thorough neurological exam may include:
- Electrodiagnostic tests such as electromyography and nerve conduction velocity
- Blood and urine studies
- A spinal tap
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- Muscle and nerve biopsies
“Most people who develop ALS are between the ages of 40 and 70,” Dr. Patton shares. “The average age at time of diagnosis is 55 years and the disease tends to be more common in men than women.”
If you or a family member has concerns about muscle weakness or other unusual neurological symptoms, call Methodist Sugar Land Neurology Associates at 281-494-6387 to schedule a consultation.
INTRODUCING EDDIE PATTON JR., M.D.
Methodist Sugar Land Neurology Associates welcomes Eddie Patton Jr., M.D., board-certified neurologist, to its team of professionals. Dr. Patton joins Drs. Jeffrey Jackson and M. Faisal Khan in providing diagnostic services and treatment of the most common to the most complex neurological disorders. From sleep apnea, migraines, epilepsy, dementia and neuromuscular disorders to complex spine and peripheral neurological disorders, the physicians in this group can help you improve or manage your condition.
Call 281-494-6387 to schedule an appointment.
Last updated 1 year ago
SUGAR LAND—(September 7, 2011)—Methodist Sugar Land Hospital, in collaboration with Fort Bend and Sugar Land Exchange Club and the Sugar Land Rotary, will provide free flu shots on Saturday, October 29 to community members who participate in Santa’s Gift Exchange. Fort Bend residents can bring a new, unwrapped toy or clothing item to Methodist Sugar Land Hospital from 8 a.m. to noon in exchange for a flu shot. The toys and clothing will benefit local children in the Fort Bend area.
“We are proud to partner with the local exchange clubs once again to provide this community offering. This is a great way for the community to stay healthy while also putting smiles on children’s faces during the holiday season,” said Chris Siebenaler, CEO of Methodist Sugar Land Hospital.
In 2010, Santa’s Gift Exchange provided toys and clothing to more than 3,000 economically disadvantaged children in Fort Bend County. Organizers of Santa’s Gift Exchange 2011 are anticipating an equal or greater number of qualifying families due to recent economic downturns. “Everyone's help is needed to meet the challenge of providing toys for our children who will not have toys this year without our help,” said John Robson, Chairman of Santa’s Gift Exchange 2011. “We are looking forward to partnering with Methodist Sugar Land Hospital for a fourth year. This is a great collaboration; get a flu shot and in return you are able to give back to the children in this community,” says Steve Griffith, Exchange Club of Sugar Land President.
“Our community is well known for it’s philanthropic values so we encourage you to participate by dropping off toys or clothing even if you have already had your flu shot,” Siebenaler said.
If you would like to participate in this community event, please bring an unwrapped, new toy or clothing item to the main lobby of Methodist Sugar Land Hospital between the times of 8:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 29th.
The flu vaccine is formulated to provide protection against three different flu strains – H1N1, H3N2 and influenza B. Methodist Sugar Land Hospital will be distributing a limited supply of the influenza vaccine to persons age 18 and older with no history of egg and/or latex allergy. If you are pregnant, please visit your OB/GYN or primary care physician to have your vaccine administered.
Last updated 1 year ago
A herniated disk sounds like an excruciating injury, something that happens after falling from a roof or getting kicked by a horse. Painful as it is, the condition is typically caused by long-term overuse or repetitive injury – simple movements like lifting, bending, reaching and twisting – not a single fall or impact.
“A herniated disk is often the result of a gradual wear and tear called degeneration of the disks,” explains Anthony J. Muffoletto, M.D., board-certified orthopedic surgeon specializing in diseases and deformities of the spine with Methodist Orthopaedic Specialists of Texas. Herniated disks are most common in middle age, especially from age 35 to 45.
“As you age, the spinal disks become less flexible and more prone to injury,” Dr. Muffoletto adds. The spine is cushioned by disks with gel-like centers, and a disk becomes herniated when pressure causes the soft material to protrude out of a tear in the disk.
Depending on the location and severity of the herniated disk, you may feel severe back pain or no pain at all. Pain is caused when a herniated disk (also called a slipped or ruptured disk) irritates a spinal nerve nearby.
(Photo): Anthony J. Muffoletto, M.D
Signs and symptoms include:
• Radiating pain or tingling that extends down one leg (called sciatica).
• Pain, numbness or weakness in your lower back and one leg, or in your neck, shoulder, chest or arm.
• Low back pain or leg pain that worsens when you sit, cough or sneeze.
Treatment depends on a variety of factors, including your symptoms, age, activity level and worsening conditions. “Conservative treatments relieve symptoms in about nine out of 10 patients,” Dr. Muffoletto says. “Doing stretches and exercises while also managing pain with medication helps the body heal on its own, usually within one or two months.”
Conservative treatment may include rest and activity modification, a light exercise routine designed for stability and strength, avoiding sitting for extending periods of time, applying mild heat and ice for 20 minutes at a time and taking anti-inflammatory medications.
Physical therapy can be useful for both pain relief and rehabilitation. Ultrasound and electrical stimulation may be used to relieve pain, while exercises improve core strength to prevent future injury.
Surgery may be recommended in rare cases if the pain is severe or an abnormal disk is causing a neurological problem. Surgical options to remove the herniated portion of the disk and relieve pressure on the nerve include diskectomy and microdiskectomy. This is usually an outpatient procedure and pain relief is typically immediate.
A Healthy Back Starts Here
It’s time to see a doctor if your back pain:
• Is disabling for more than one week.
• Interferes with your normal activities for one to three weeks.
• Has not improved significantly after four to six weeks.
While not all pain can be cured, it can be managed — especially if back or neck pain is keeping you from taking part in everyday activities. Our team of pain specialists at Methodist Sugar Land Hospital’s Spine Center will perform a thorough evaluation and formulate a treatment plan specific to your condition.
The Spine Center is located on the Methodist Sugar Land Hospital campus with easy access off Town Center Boulevard. Patients with primary care physician referrals, as well as those without referrals, are welcome. For more information or to schedule an appointment at Methodist Sugar Land Hospital’s Spine Center, please call 281-313-BACK (2225).