Exercise & diet advice

Key symptoms of NDM are muscle stiffness or cramps, weakness, fatigue and pain.1,2 Symptoms often affect the arms and legs, which can cause problems with some physical activities.1,3 However, finding a way to remain active without provoking NDM symptoms is key to a healthy lifestyle.4

“I often feel as though I’m paralyzed and absolutely incapable of movement.”

— BE, HyperPP

Myotonia symptoms are elicited by different triggers according to the type of NDM you have.1,3 If you have Thomsen or Becker myotonia congenita, muscle stiffness is likely to be worse when you first move after a period of inactivity, whereas the opposite is true with paramyotonia congenita, where stiffness increases with continued movement.1 With hyperkalaemic periodic paralysis, myotonia can be triggered by rest following exercise.1 Many people with NDM find that cold will trigger a myotonic “episode”.4 Work with your healthcare team to understand the type of NDM you have and how you can safely increase the amount of activity you are doing.

Aerobic exercise, such as swimming, cycling and walking are encouraged to improve fitness, and resistance training is not thought to be harmful for people with NDM, but sudden forceful contractions should be avoided.2,4

Patients who find that myotonia is painful for them or who experience fatigue, may find it more difficult to be active5 and should seek specific help for these symptoms from their healthcare team.

If during or after exercising, you experience unexpected pain, shortness of breath, palpitations, dizziness, or a change in symptoms, you should stop and contact a healthcare professional.

People with sodium channel myotonia and dyskalemic episodic paralysis can be sensitive to potassium in their diet, they may find that avoiding potassium-rich foods can help reduce myotonia symptoms.4

References
  • Hahn C, Salajegheh MK. Iran J Neurol 2016;15:46–53
  • Stunnenberg BC, et al. Muscle Nerve 2020;62:430-444
  • Matthews E, et al. Brain 2010:133; 9–22
  • Jitipolmard N, et al. Curr Treat Options Neurol 2020;22:34
  • Trip J, et al. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 2009;80:647-652

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Foods to avoid on a low-potassium diet*

  • Fruit1,2
  • Vegetables1,2
  • Beans/legumes1,3
  • Other1-3
  • Avocado
  • Artichoke
  • Baked beans
  • Bran cereal
  • Apricots
  • Beetroot
  • Kidney beans
  • Dairy (eg yoghurt, milk)
  • Bananas
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Lentils
  • Nuts
  • Dried fruits eg dates, raisins and prunes
  • Broccoli (cooked)
  • Brown rice
  • Grapefruit
  • Okra
  • Salt substitutes
  • Kiwi
  • Parsnip
  • Wholewheat bread and pasta
  • Mango
  • Potatoes (processed or with skin on)
  • Melons
  • Cooked spinach
  • Nectarines
  • Tomato (concentrated, eg. Tomato puree)
  • Oranges and orange juice
  • Papaya
  • Pomegranate and pomegranate juice
  • Fruit1,2

    Avocado

    Apricots

    Bananas

    Dried fruits eg dates, raisins and prunes

    Grapefruit

    Kiwi

    Mango

    Melons

    Nectarines

    Oranges and orange juice

    Papaya

    Pomegranate and pomegranate juice

  • Vegetables1,2

    Artichoke

    Beetroot

    Brussel sprouts

    Broccoli (cooked)

    Okra

    Parsnip

    Potatoes (processed or with skin on)

    Cooked spinach

    Tomato (concentrated, eg. Tomato puree)

  • Beans/legumes1,3

    Baked beans

    Kidney beans

    Lentils

  • Other1-3

    Bran cereal

    Dairy (eg yoghurt, milk)

    Nuts

    Brown rice

    Salt substitutes

    Wholewheat bread and pasta

*Meat and fish contain a moderate amount of potassium but they are an important source of protein so shouldn’t be avoided; Dairy products contain potassium but are an important source of calcium so should be consumed in moderation
References
  • WebMD. Low-potassium diet: what to know? Available at: https://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/low-potassium-diet-foods ; Accessed March 2021
  • St Georges Kidney Patients Association. Eating on a low potassium diet. Available at: https://www.sgkpa.org.uk/main/eating-well-on-a-low-potassium-diet-2 ; Accessed March 2021
  • NHS. Information for people on a low potassium diet. Available at: https://www.nth.nhs.uk/content/uploads/2019/02/PIL1061-Information-for-people-following-a-low-potassium-diet-Final-11.02.19-LP.pdf ; Accessed March 2021
  • NDM type1
  • Symptoms2,3
  • Which type of ion channel? 2,3
  • How is it inherited?2,3
  • Thomsen myotonia congenita

    (also called Thomsen myotonia or autosomal dominant myotonia congenita)
  • Lower limbs tend to be more affected, although can also affect the arms, hands and face. Stiffness may be worse when you first try to move after a period of inactivity, and may ease as you ‘warm up’.
  • Chloride (Cl-)
  • Autosomal dominant
  • Becker myotonia congenita

    (also called Becker myotonia, Becker disease, generalized myotonia, recessive generalized myotonia or autosomal recessive myotonia congenita
  • Lower limbs tend to be more affected, although can also affect the arms, hands and face. Stiffness may be worse when you first try to move after a period of inactivity, or if you are startled, and may ease as you ‘warm up’. Sometimes people with Becker myotonia congenita experience temporary weakness after an episode of myotonia.
  • Chloride (Cl-)
  • Autosomal recessive
  • Paramyotonia congenita

    (Also called Eulenburg disease, paralysis periodica paramyotonia, paramyotonia congenita of von Eulenburg, PMC or von Eulenburg’s disease)
  • Myotonia mainly affects hands and face and gets worse with exercise. Cold is also a key trigger of myotonia, and muscle weakness after an episode of myotonia may last hours or sometimes days.
  • Sodium (Na+)
  • Autosomal dominant
  • Sodium channel myotonia, SCM:

    myotonia permanens and myotonia fluctuans, acetazolamide-responsive myotonia (ARM) previously known as Potassium aggravated myotonias (PAM)
  • Potassium-aggravated myotonia is a rare form of NDM that affects all areas of the body. Myotonia attacks are triggered by eating potassium-rich foods. Symptoms may fluctuate widely from day to day (myotonia fluctuans) or are constant and severe (myotonia permanens).
  • Sodium (Na+)
  • Autosomal dominant
  • Other closely related sodium disorders with myotonia

    (including hyperkalemic paralysis or hyperPP)
  • Myotonia is usually mild, and often involves the eyelids, hands, and tongue. Attacks of weakness can occur at any time and are commonly triggered by rest following exercise, fasting, eating potassium-rich foods or stress.
  • Sodium (Na+)
  • Autosomal dominant
References
  • Stunnenberg B. Muscle Nerve. 2020 Oct; 62(4): 430–444
  • Hahn C, Salajegheh MK. Iran J Neurol 2016;15:46–53
  • Matthews E, et al. Brain 2010:133; 9–22
  • NDM type1

    Thomsen myotonia congenita

    (also called Thomsen myotonia or autosomal dominant myotonia congenita)

    Becker myotonia congenita

    (also called Becker myotonia, Becker disease, generalized myotonia, recessive generalized myotonia or autosomal recessive myotonia congenita

    Paramyotonia congenita

    (Also called Eulenburg disease, paralysis periodica paramyotonia, paramyotonia congenita of von Eulenburg, PMC or von Eulenburg’s disease)

    Sodium channel myotonia, SCM:

    myotonia permanens and myotonia fluctuans, acetazolamide-responsive myotonia (ARM) previously known as Potassium aggravated myotonias (PAM)

    Other closely related sodium disorders with myotonia

    (including hyperkalemic paralysis or hyperPP)

  • Symptoms2,3

    Lower limbs tend to be more affected, although can also affect the arms, hands and face. Stiffness may be worse when you first try to move after a period of inactivity, and may ease as you ‘warm up’.

    Lower limbs tend to be more affected, although can also affect the arms, hands and face. Stiffness may be worse when you first try to move after a period of inactivity, or if you are startled, and may ease as you ‘warm up’. Sometimes people with Becker myotonia congenita experience temporary weakness after an episode of myotonia.

    Myotonia mainly affects hands and face and gets worse with exercise. Cold is also a key trigger of myotonia, and muscle weakness after an episode of myotonia may last hours or sometimes days.

    Potassium-aggravated myotonia is a rare form of NDM that affects all areas of the body. Myotonia attacks are triggered by eating potassium-rich foods. Symptoms may fluctuate widely from day to day (myotonia fluctuans) or are constant and severe (myotonia permanens).

    Myotonia is usually mild, and often involves the eyelids, hands, and tongue. Attacks of weakness can occur at any time and are commonly triggered by rest following exercise, fasting, eating potassium-rich foods or stress.

  • Which type of ion channel? 2,3

    Chloride (Cl-)

    Chloride (Cl-)

    Sodium (Na+)

    Sodium (Na+)

    Sodium (Na+)

  • How is it inherited?2,3

    Autosomal dominant

    Autosomal recessive

    Autosomal dominant

    Autosomal dominant

    Autosomal dominant

References
  • Stunnenberg B. Muscle Nerve. 2020 Oct; 62(4): 430–444
  • Hahn C, Salajegheh MK. Iran J Neurol 2016;15:46–53
  • Matthews E, et al. Brain 2010:133; 9–22