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ALS vs. SMA: What's the Difference?

Edited by Huma Saeed || By Sawaira Riaz || Published on February 13, 2024
ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) is a neurodegenerative disease affecting motor neurons, leading to muscle weakness; SMA (Spinal Muscular Atrophy) is a genetic disorder causing progressive muscle wasting due to motor neuron loss.

Key Differences

ALS is characterized by the degeneration of motor neurons leading to muscle weakness and atrophy. SMA is a genetic disorder caused by a deficiency in the SMN1 gene, leading to progressive muscle weakness.
Huma Saeed
Feb 13, 2024
The onset of ALS typically occurs in adulthood, often leading to rapid progression and severe disability. SMA usually manifests in infancy or early childhood, with varying degrees of severity depending on the type.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 13, 2024
ALS affects both upper and lower motor neurons, resulting in a combination of muscle weakness, spasticity, and atrophy. In SMA, primarily lower motor neurons are affected, leading to muscle wasting and weakness without sensory loss.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 13, 2024
There is no known cure for ALS, and treatments are focused on managing symptoms and prolonging survival. For SMA, recent advancements in gene therapy and treatments targeting the underlying genetic cause offer potential for significant improvement.
Janet White
Feb 13, 2024
The progression of ALS can lead to total paralysis and respiratory failure. While SMA can also lead to severe physical disabilities, its course is more variable, and some forms are compatible with a longer lifespan.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 13, 2024
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Comparison Chart

Primary Cause

Neurodegeneration of motor neurons
Genetic deficiency in the SMN1 gene
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 13, 2024

Age of Onset

Usually in adulthood
Infancy or early childhood
Huma Saeed
Feb 13, 2024

Affected Neurons

Upper and lower motor neurons
Mainly lower motor neurons
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 13, 2024

Treatment and Prognosis

Symptom management, no cure
Gene therapy, varying prognosis
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 13, 2024

Typical Progression

Rapid progression to paralysis
Variable, dependent on SMA type
Harlon Moss
Feb 13, 2024
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ALS and SMA Definitions

ALS

A neurodegenerative disease affecting motor neurons.
He was diagnosed with ALS, which affected his muscle control.
Sawaira Riaz
Jan 07, 2024

SMA

Affects motor neurons in the spinal cord.
In SMA, the motor neurons in the spinal cord degenerate.
Sawaira Riaz
Jan 07, 2024

ALS

Involves both the brain and the spinal cord.
ALS progresses by affecting neurons in the brain and spinal cord.
Aimie Carlson
Jan 07, 2024

SMA

Results from a deficiency in the SMN1 gene.
Genetic testing revealed the SMN1 gene mutation responsible for SMA.
Huma Saeed
Jan 07, 2024

ALS

No known cure, treatment focuses on symptom relief.
Her treatment for ALS focused on managing symptoms and improving quality of life.
Janet White
Jan 07, 2024

SMA

A genetic disorder causing progressive muscle weakness.
The child with SMA showed signs of muscle weakness early on.
Sawaira Riaz
Jan 07, 2024

ALS

Often leads to severe disability and paralysis.
As ALS advanced, he required more assistance for daily activities.
Harlon Moss
Jan 07, 2024

SMA

Has variable severity, depending on the type.
Her type of SMA was less severe, allowing greater mobility.
Janet White
Jan 07, 2024

ALS

Characterized by muscle weakness and atrophy.
ALS led to a gradual loss of her ability to walk.
Sawaira Riaz
Jan 07, 2024

SMA

Recent treatments target the genetic cause.
He received gene therapy, a new treatment for SMA.
Harlon Moss
Jan 07, 2024

ALS

Obsolete form of also
Sawaira Riaz
Jan 06, 2024

ALS

Also.
Sawaira Riaz
Jan 06, 2024

ALS

As.
Sawaira Riaz
Jan 06, 2024

ALS

Thickening of tissue in the motor tracts of the lateral columns and anterior horns of the spinal cord; results in progressive muscle atrophy that starts in the limbs
Sawaira Riaz
Jan 06, 2024

FAQs

What is ALS?

A progressive neurodegenerative disease affecting motor neurons.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 13, 2024

What is SMA?

A genetic disorder causing muscle weakness due to motor neuron loss.
Huma Saeed
Feb 13, 2024

How is ALS diagnosed?

Through clinical evaluation, electromyography, and ruling out other conditions.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 13, 2024

How does SMA affect the body?

It causes progressive muscle weakness and atrophy.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 13, 2024

Is ALS hereditary?

Most ALS cases are sporadic, but some are familial.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 13, 2024

Can ALS be cured?

There is no cure for ALS; treatment focuses on symptom management.
Aimie Carlson
Feb 13, 2024

What causes SMA?

A genetic mutation in the SMN1 gene.
Janet White
Feb 13, 2024

Are there treatments for SMA?

Yes, including gene therapy and medications targeting the genetic cause.
Aimie Carlson
Feb 13, 2024

What are the symptoms of ALS?

Muscle weakness, atrophy, difficulty speaking, and breathing problems.
Janet White
Feb 13, 2024

Is SMA always inherited?

Yes, it's an autosomal recessive genetic disorder.
Aimie Carlson
Feb 13, 2024

Can SMA be detected before birth?

Yes, through genetic testing during pregnancy.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 13, 2024

Are there different types of SMA?

Yes, varying from Type 1 (most severe) to Type 4 (least severe).
Aimie Carlson
Feb 13, 2024

How is ALS managed?

With medications, physical therapy, and supportive care.
Janet White
Feb 13, 2024

Is ALS painless?

It primarily causes muscle weakness, but some patients experience pain.
Janet White
Feb 13, 2024

Does SMA affect cognitive abilities?

No, SMA does not typically affect cognitive functions.
Janet White
Feb 13, 2024

What is the life expectancy with ALS?

Varies, typically 3-5 years after diagnosis, but some live longer.
Janet White
Feb 13, 2024

Can SMA improve with treatment?

Treatment can slow progression and improve symptoms, especially with early intervention.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 13, 2024

Who is at risk for ALS?

Adults, typically between 40-70 years old, with a slight male predominance.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 13, 2024

Can lifestyle changes help with SMA?

Physical therapy and supportive care can improve quality of life.
Harlon Moss
Feb 13, 2024

Do ALS symptoms progress quickly?

Typically, yes, especially in later stages.
Aimie Carlson
Feb 13, 2024
About Author
Written by
Sawaira Riaz
Sawaira is a dedicated content editor at difference.wiki, where she meticulously refines articles to ensure clarity and accuracy. With a keen eye for detail, she upholds the site's commitment to delivering insightful and precise content.
Edited by
Huma Saeed
Huma is a renowned researcher acclaimed for her innovative work in Difference Wiki. Her dedication has led to key breakthroughs, establishing her prominence in academia. Her contributions continually inspire and guide her field.

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