Motor neuron disease (MND)
Motor neuron disease (MND) is a medical condition affecting the brain and nerves. It can cause weakness that gets worse over time. There’s no known cure for MND, but there are remedies to support its impact on a person’s daily life. Some people live with this condition for many years, but life expectancy is usually short and eventually leads to death.
Signs of Motor neuron disease (MND)
Motor neuron disease symptoms happen gradually and may not be evident at first.
Early signs can include:
- Liability in your ankle or leg
- Slurred speech
- Difficulty swallowing some foods
- A weak grip – you drop things or do up buttons
- Muscle cramps and spasms
- Unintentional weight loss – your arms or leg muscles become thinner over time
- Difficulty in controlling your emotions – stopping yourself from crying or laughing in inappropriate situations
Motor neuron condition primarily affects people in their late 60s and 70s, but it can affect adults of all ages; malfunctioning cells in the brain and nerves are called motor neurons.
These cells gradually stop working over time. The cause of this defect is still a mystery.
Motor neuron disease (MND) test
It can be challenging to diagnose motor neuron disease in the early stages.
There’s no single test for it. To rule out other conditions, a neurologist may arrange the following test:
- Blood tests
- Tests to measure the movement of the electrical impulse in your muscles and nerves
- A scan of your brain and spine
- A lumbar puncture (spinal tap) – a thin needle removes the fluid from within your spine and tests it
There’s no known cure for MND, but there are remedies to support its impact on a person’s daily life. You’ll have special care from a team of specialists and a doctor.
- A specialist nurse and occupational therapist to assist make everyday tasks easier
- physiotherapy and exercises to retain strength and diminish stiffness
- Guidance from a speech and language therapist
- Suggestion from a dietitian about a diet plan
- A medication called riluzole slightly slows down the advancement of the condition
- Antidotes relieve muscle stiffness and help with saliva problems
- Emotional support
Reviewed by – Dr. Priyanka, MBBS MD Microbiology
Page last reviewed: 04 October 2022