Early-stage amyotrophic lateral sclerosis symptoms
The first amyotrophic lateral sclerosis symptoms can be so mild that they’re barely noticeable. Usually the first sign is muscle weakness, which affects 60 percent of people with ALS. You might have trouble performing fine movements requiring muscle strength, like grasping a pen, or picking a book up off a shelf.
Some people first experience muscle weakness in a single limb — an arm or a leg. This is called “limb onset” ALS.
The muscles also twitch as signals from motor neurons are disrupted — just as a radio station pops in and out when its signal weakens. Muscle twitches are called fasciculations. They’re not painful, but they can be annoying and interrupt sleep.
Muscle cramping is also common. These spasms can be painful.
Other early ALS symptoms include:
- Dropping things
- Weakness in the arms and legs
- Slurred speech
- Poor balance
Early ALS symptoms may occur in only one part of the body — such as in an arm or leg. The effects gradually spread from one part of the body to another.
March 16, 2020
Christopher Nystuen, MD, MBA