Your body contains different types of muscles: some, like the heart, move without your control. Those are called involuntary muscles. Some muscles, like those that move your eyelids and part involuntary (they move without your control when blinking) and part voluntary, meaning you can control them if you choose to. Fully voluntary muscles include your arms, legs, and hand, and you can control when and how they move.
Any conditions that affect voluntary muscles are grouped as a neuromuscular disorder, and the most common of these include
- Multiple sclerosis
- Muscular dystrophy
- Lou Gehrig's disease; also called Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
- Muscle weakness due to endocrine abnormalities
- Diseases of the peripheral nerve
MedStar Health interdisciplinary teams are experienced in diagnosing and treating neuromuscular disorders and often used the following test to determine the specifics of your condition:
- Nerve conduction and electromyogram: These tests measure the ability of nerves to conduct impulses to muscle, as well as the electrical activity of muscle.
- Serum enzyme test: Many, but not all, neuromuscular diseases cause a significant increase in the muscle protein levels found in the blood. This test determines what your levels are.
- Muscle biopsy: For some neuromuscular diseases, a small amount of muscle is removed and then analyzed for abnormalities in the number of proteins within the cells, as well as for characteristic changes in muscle composition.