What is Neuromuscular Medicine?

Neuromuscular medicine can be broadly defined as a medical specialty devoted to disorders of nerves and muscles. It has some similarities to the specialty of physical medicine and rehabilitation, in that it is concerned with how people move and function. It is also similar to the specialty of neurology because it has to do with disorders of the nervous system. However, neuromuscular medicine specifically deals with disorders in how the nerves interact with muscles. These disorders often require a level of knowledge greater than that of a general neurologist or physical medicine specialist.

Our nervous system is made up of two parts. The peripheral nervous system includes sensory nerves, nerves that move muscles, and the junctions between muscles and nerves. The central nervous system includes the brain and spinal cord. Neuromuscular medicine deals with disorders that occur specifically when the two parts of the nervous system do not connect or work well together. These disorders include:
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, sometimes known as Lou Gehrig's Disease
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Myasthenia gravis, a disorder where the muscles feel weak and fatigued
  • Ataxia, characterized by involuntary movements

Neuromuscular medicine specialists are usually knowledgeable about electrodiagnostic medicine, the use of electrical impulses to check nerve and muscle function. These tests play an important role in neuromuscular management. Neuromuscular medicine specialists also perform physical exams, diagnose their patients and manage their care, and provide medical counseling for those with life-altering illnesses.
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