Myasthenia Gravis

What is Myasthenia Gravis MG?

Myasthenia Gravis (MG) is a rare but very dangerous autoimmune neuromuscular disease. This chronic condition causes the patient’s muscles to weaken. It primarily impacts the skeletal muscles. Since these muscles are responsible for skeletal movement, people with MG often experience severe fatigue and mobility issues. Millions across the world live with this condition. But, there’s no permanent cure, and the condition often goes undiagnosed. Thankfully, there are treatments to control the signs and symptoms of this condition.

Physiotherapy, in particular, can eliminate or alleviate symptoms such as weakness of limb muscles, drooping eyelids, slurred speech, inability to chew/swallow, and breathing difficulties. MG can affect people of all ages. But, it's more prevalent in young women (under the age of forty) and old men (over the age of sixty). Consistent therapeutic care can enable patients diagnosed with this condition to lead reasonably normal lives and enjoy normal life expectancies.

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Myasthenia Gravis (MG) is a rare but very dangerous autoimmune neuromuscular disease. This chronic condition causes the patient’s muscles to weaken. It primarily impacts the skeletal muscles.

Symptoms of Myasthenia Gravis MG

The main symptom of MG is muscle weakness. This symptom worsens whenever affected muscles are used. But, they also become better with rest and physiotherapy. In the long run, this symptom progresses over time, causing patients to lose control of their voluntary muscle groups. Some other common symptoms include:

  • Eye problems like drooping of eyelids or double vision.
  • Face and throat muscle damage leading to impaired speech, difficulties swallowing, difficulties chewing, and changes of facial expressions.
  • Growing weakness in neck and limb muscles, making it hard for patients to walk while holding up their heads.

Causes of Myasthenia Gravis MG

This condition manifests whenever there are communication breakdowns between nerves and muscles.

  • Normally, communication between nerves and muscles takes place at the nervous system’s neuromuscular junctions. In these locations, muscles and their operating nerve cells interact.
  • In normal bodies, the nerve cells release acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter. Acetylcholine is responsible for tying up with acetylcholine receptors in the muscles.
  • This link-up and the electrical signals from the motor nerves activate the muscles.
  • People with MGs don’t have healthy acetylcholine receptors in their muscles. Their neuromuscular junctions are often occupied by antibodies.
  • Their bodies produce extra proteins to fight off infection risks. But, these protein antibodies destroy acetylcholine receptors.
  • They cause the muscles to stay inactive. The electrical signals from the motor nerves make little difference.

People with damaged thymus gland issues can also suffer from similar effects. Tumors growing in these glands impact antibody production in nerve cells. In highly rare cases, children are born with congenital myasthenic syndrome. This is the rarest version of this condition. It’s called neonatal myasthenia gravis. Thankfully, prompt diagnosis and treatment can help children with such inherited genetic mutations recover quickly.

When to See a Physiotherapist for Treating Myasthenia Gravis MG? 

People who know they have MG must-visit physiotherapists and doctors regularly. This condition evolves with time, and so should the treatment plans. Patients who aren’t aware of this condition should speak with medical experts if they have difficulties -

  • Holding up their heads
  • Using their arms or hands
  • Walking, running
  • Chewing, swallowing
  • Vision-related issues
  • Breathing issues

Make sure to visit a licensed physiotherapist or a doctor to avoid the risk of myasthenic crisis. This is a condition where muscle failure seeps into the patient’s chest and diaphragm. These failures reduce their ability to breathe. These crises are often triggered by outside factors like stress, post-surgery infections, etc. To prevent total respiratory failure, physiotherapists administer various breathing therapies.

Myasthenia Gravis MG – Key Risks and Complications

As stated before, the symptoms of MG can worsen due to external factors such as:

  • Fatigue
  • Infection
  • Negative reactions to medication
  • Stress
  • Extreme heat

Complications

Apart from a myasthenic crisis, other complications that may arise from this condition are:

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis: A chronic condition that causes inflammation in the joints, joint tissues, and surrounding organs.
  • Other Autoimmune Diseases - People with MG are often susceptible to other autoimmune diseases. For example, Lupus, an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation and damages to the heart, lungs, skin, joints, kidneys, and circulatory system. A person with MG is likelier to have Lupus.
  • Thyroid problems: As stated above, MG-related symptoms are often related to over/underactive thyroid glands. Since these organs regulate metabolism, MG patients may also suffer from digestive issues.

How to Prevent Getting Myasthenia Gravis MG?

There are no surefire ways of preventing this condition. People who already have this condition can take these steps to avoid aggravations:

  • Instantly treat all wounds and infections as they’re more prone to autoimmune threats.
  • Try to avoid meeting or spending time with sick people.
  • Avoid extreme temperature conditions.
  • Avoid overstressing and overworking.
  • Avoid tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs - learn other methods of stress management.

Treatments for Myasthenia Gravis MG

Neurological Physiotherapy treatment helps MG patients. Top physiotherapists can create customized treatment plans that improve the patient’s energy levels and overall sense of well-being. Some helpful treatment steps include –

  • Muscle strength training for increasing fitness and energy levels.
  • Diet management to strategically improve weakness in certain muscles.
  • Exercises for increasing muscle strength and enhancing functional capabilities.
  • Breathing techniques to maintain clear chests during “cough attacks.”
  • Relaxation therapy for improving quality of sleep
  • Massage (e.g., hydrotherapy) to decompress sore muscles.
  • Techniques on how to improve posture when sitting/standing in public and private settings.

Related Conditions

Here are disorders and conditions that have symptoms similar to those of MG: hypothyroidism, spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome, and Graves’ ophthalmology. Plasmapheresis and immunoglobulin therapies can help such patients.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is this condition life-threatening?
No. But, complications of this condition can be life-threatening. For example, people who suffer from Myasthenic crisis struggle to breathe. They require immediate medical attention.
2. Does this condition affect the heart?
Yes. People with MG are likely to experience high blood pressure, diabetes, and other circulatory ailments.
3. Who suffers from this condition?
Anyone can have MG. Every 20 out of 100,000 United States citizens suffers from this condition.

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