If you’re experiencing problems with muscle coordination, there are plenty of potential causes. This symptom, known as ataxia, is associated with many different diseases and disorders. Fortunately, ataxia is not always serious, and will sometimes go away on its own. Read this article to learn more about ataxia and how it’s treated.
Ataxia is a lack of muscle coordination due to problems with the parts of the nervous system that control movement and balance. Different areas of the body can be affected by ataxia, including the eyes, fingers, hands, arms, legs, body or even speech or the ability to swallow.
Ataxia is actually a symptom in itself – it is usually linked to a neurological disorder. However, this symptom may appear in a variety of different ways, including:
It’s important to note that the lack of muscle coordination associated ataxia may develop very suddenly or slowly worsen over time. In addition, these changes often occur when someone is in their 20s or 30s, although older individuals can also develop ataxia.
Some cases of ataxia are hereditary. Hereditary ataxia is caused by a defect in a certain gene. This defect causes the gene to product abnormal proteins which negatively affect nerve cells, causing them to function improperly and degenerate over time. Depending on what type of defect the gene has, different areas of the body may be affected. Hereditary ataxia usually worsens as the disease progresses.
The second type of ataxia is sporadic ataxia, meaning that the condition is acquired rather than hereditary. The most common causes of sporadic ataxia include:
In most cases, especially when genetics or diseases like MS are the cause, ataxia cannot be prevented. However, there are some precautions you can take to help reduce your risk of developing certain types of sporadic ataxia, such as:
The treatment for ataxia depends on the cause of the symptom. In many cases, an underlying medical condition, such as MS, is treated to help relieve symptoms. In others, the ataxia goes away on its own over time (as with TIA). In cases where ataxia cannot be easily relieved or is a permanent challenge to the patient the doctor may prescribe one or both of the following treatments to help with ataxia:
Depending on the cause of the condition, there is not always a cure for ataxia. However, this symptom can often be alleviated with treatment and it can even help diagnose a condition you weren’t aware of having. See your doctor if you start to display any of the coordination problems associated with ataxia.