Typical Early Warning Symptoms and Signs of ALS

Most ALS symptoms are gradual in onset. Symptoms are what the patient feels, and signs are what the doctor will see upon examination.

  • Symptoms include:
  • Muscle weakness, which can be in the limbs, but usually starts in the hands and feet, and sometimes shoulders and hips
  • Hand weakness, manifesting itself in dropping things, difficulty opening jars and using nail clippers, writing, etc.
  • Foot weakness results in tripping, typically without pain
  • Difficulty with speech, including tongue weakness with twitches, and difficulty swallowing
  • Atrophy or twitching in muscles (fasciculations), cramps and stiffness
  • Changes in behavior like increased impulsivity, excessive laughing or crying

While these symptoms can be associated with many other disorders, people experiencing them should contact their Personal Care Physicians and get a Neurologist referral.

  • What the physician will see as signs of ALS are:
  • Muscle atrophy and fasciculations, weakness, and increased deep tendon reflexes
  • Slurred and/or spastic speech, excess saliva, shortness of breath, and/or disinhibition
  • All of these signs will be in absence of sensory or other changes on examination