Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Testing and Diagnosis

The team at Banner Health is here to help you along you or your loved one’s ALS journey. Find out more about how Banner Health may help test and diagnose ALS.

What Tests Screen for ALS?

While there is no test to diagnose ALS, there are other tests your doctor can prescribe to rule out other conditions or diseases. The types of tests your doctor may recommend can include:

  • Genetic testing: Genetic testing is used to see if there is a genetic background of ALS in your family. 
  • MRI: While an MRI cannot diagnose for ALS, it can be used to rule out other conditions. 
  • Blood test: Blood tests can look for early signs of ALS and rule out other conditions.

Ask your doctor about testing options to determine a diagnosis. 

What Are the Stages of ALS?

Stages of ALS range from early, middle, late and end. These stages and their symptoms progressively worsen over time. 

Early stage: Early signs of ALS can include muscle stiffness, cramping and twitching. In the early stage, ALS can affect one area of the body or a larger region. This stage can occur before a patient is officially diagnosed with ALS. In this stage, it may be difficult to do daily tasks. 

Middle stage: In the middle stage of ALS patients can start to show progression of the early stage symptoms. Swallowing and chewing may become more difficult over time, as well as weaknesses over the whole body.

Late stage: In the late stages of ALS, most of the muscles in the body become paralyzed. Talking and swallowing become more difficult and may lead to a point where they may not be possible. Breathing and respiratory function can cause headaches and fatigue. At this stage, ensure they have a caretaker who can assist with daily tasks.

What’s My Prognosis for ALS?

The earlier ALS is found, the better you can try to slow down progression. Many patients are not diagnosed until the symptoms have worsened and progressed over time. Reach out to your doctor if you are experiencing these symptoms.

The professionals at Banner Health are here to support you and can find the right tests to determine a diagnosis.