Lambert-Eaton Myasthenic Syndrome (LEMS)

What is Lambert-Eaton Myasthenic Syndrome (LEMS)?

Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome (LEMS) is a rare neuromuscular disorder in which the nerve impulses to the muscles are disrupted. This results in the muscles becoming weak and fatigued. It's usually seen in adults age 40 or older, and it's more common in men than in women.

LEMS is caused by a problem with the body's immune system. The immune system mistakenly attacks molecules of the nerve cells. This affects how well nerves can send signals to the muscles, making them weak and tired. The most common symptom of LEMS is muscle weakness, especially in the lower part of the body. Other common symptoms include fatigue, pain in the muscles, trouble walking, and problems with balance.

Diagnosis of Lambert-Eaton Myasthenic Syndrome (LEMS)

The diagnosis of LEMS is made by a neurologist, based on a combination of medical history, physical examination, laboratory tests, and sometimes nerve stimulation tests. Results from an electromyography (EMG) test and nerve conduction velocity (NCV) test can help to diagnose LEMS. EMG measures the electrical activity in a muscle, and NCV measures the speed of electrical impulses travelling along a nerve.

Blood tests may also be done to check for antibodies against specific proteins found on nerve and muscle cells. Specific antibodies in LEMS patients are linked to the autoimmune destruction of the nerve and muscle cells.

Treatment of Lambert-Eaton Myasthenic Syndrome (LEMS)

The main treatment for LEMS is medications that help to slow down the immune system and reduce inflammation. Most commonly these medications are a type of immune suppressants called corticosteroids. Other medications that can be used to treat LEMS include immunomodulators and immunosuppressants.

In some cases, surgery may be necessary to remove parts of the nerve that are damaged. Physical therapy and other forms of rehabilitation may also be needed to help with muscle strengthening and coordination.

Complications of Lambert-Eaton Myasthenic Syndrome (LEMS)

LEMS can lead to a number of health issues, including fatigue, breathing difficulties, speech problems, trouble swallowing, and trouble with balance and coordination. It can also lead to increased sensitivity to cold temperatures, changes in skin color, and other vision problems.

LEMS can also increase the risk of developing certain autoimmune diseases, such as lupus, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Living With Lambert-Eaton Myasthenic Syndrome (LEMS)

Living with LEMS can be challenging, but there are many ways to cope and manage the condition. It's important to focus on the positive aspects of life and to find activities that you can enjoy despite having LEMS. It's also important to take care of your physical and emotional health by eating healthy, exercising regularly, and getting enough rest.

It's also important to talk to your doctor about any changes in your condition, as well as any new treatments or medications that may be helpful. There is also support available through specialized organizations, advocacy groups, and support groups.

Key Takeaways

  • LEMS is a rare neuromuscular disorder that affects the nerve impulses to the muscles.
  • The diagnosis is made by a combination of medical history, physical examination, laboratory tests, and nerve stimulation tests.
  • Treatment includes medications, surgery, physical therapy, and other forms of rehabilitation.
  • In addition to physical symptoms, LEMS can cause emotional and mental health problems as well.
  • There are many ways to cope and manage LEMS, such as eating healthy, exercising, and finding support.