Friedreich's ataxia is an inherited disease that damages your nervous system. The damage affects your spinal cord and the nerves that control muscle movement in your arms and legs. Symptoms usually begin between the ages of 5 and 15. The main symptom is ataxia, which means trouble coordinating movements. Specific symptoms include
- Difficulty walking
- Muscle weakness
- Speech problems
- Involuntary eye movements
- Scoliosis (curving of the spine to one side)
- Heart palpitations, from the heart disease which can happen along with Friedreich's ataxia
People with Friedreich's ataxia usually need a wheelchair 15 to 20 years after symptoms first appear. In severe cases, people become incapacitated. There is no cure. You can treat symptoms with medicines, braces, surgery, and physical therapy.
NIH: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
- Ataxias and Cerebellar or Spinocerebellar Degeneration (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke) Also in Spanish
- Genetics Home Reference: Friedreich ataxia (National Library of Medicine)
Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)
- Article: Nanoscopic X-ray fluorescence imaging and quantification of intracellular key-elements in...
- Article: Somatic instability of the expanded GAA repeats in Friedreich's ataxia.
- Article: Synthetic transcription elongation factors license transcription across repressive chromatin.
- Friedreich's Ataxia -- see more articles
Find an Expert
- Find a Neurologist (American Academy of Neurology)
- National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke Also in Spanish