Myasthenia gravis

Myasthenia gravis (MG) is an autoimmune disorder that causes weakness that can affect vision, facial muscles, chewing, swallowing, arm and leg strength, and breathing. In MG, the body’s immune system makes antibodies against receptors on the muscles that allow the nerves to tell them to contract. When these receptors are blocked, people will experience weakness. MG can present in a variety of ways. For this reason, it is often called the “snowflake” disease because every person that gets it is so different than the other. The diagnosis is often made with a simple blood test to look for these antibodies. In some instances, electrodiagnostic testing may need to be done. Treatment consists of medication to help the nerves talk to the muscles better or medications to suppress the immune system from producing these antibodies. Spectrum Health is a Myasthenia Gravis Partners in Care Site. 

Treatment options

Myasthenia gravis is an autoimmune neuromuscular disease. Effective treatments are available and most people with myasthenia gravis live normal lives. Once your best treatment response is found, you may be symptom-free for long periods of time. Early diagnosis and treatment can make a big difference. 

Our goal with treatment is to restore muscle function and prevent swallowing and breathing problems. Typically, daily medicine is all that's needed. Sometimes, respiratory or nutritional support may be needed.

Electromyography and nerve conduction studies

Electromyography and nerve conduction studies, typically referred as an EMG, are electrical tests of muscle and nerve that neurologists and physiatrists perform on patients for a variety of conditions.

Neuro rehabilitation

Our physical therapy and rehabilitation experts don't just work on improving your physical function. We understand that neurological connections with your brain and your nerves affect your physical, cognitive and emotional health. Our holistic approach brings you greater success.

Immune suppressing medicine

Medicine to suppress the immune system (steroids) can reduce the body's attack on the neuromuscular system. This can also successfully reduce muscle fatigue. Prednisone is an example of a steroid you may be prescribed.


Through blood donation, this transfusion replaces abnormal antibodies in the blood with normal antibodies.

Immunoglobulin procedure

Given intravenously, this blood product helps decrease the immune system attacking the nervous symptom.

Skin biopsy

Your doctor may request a skin biopsy, which is a sample size of skin tissue is removed for testing for suspicious areas of skin that are abnormal in size, color and shape.

Muscle and nerve biopsy

A muscle biopsy is a procedure used to identify an infection or disease in your muscle.

Thymectomy surgery

This surgical procedure removes the thymus gland. It may or may not improve symptoms, but has been linked to altering the immune system's response.

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