What is Motor Neurone Disease? Early signs of MND and what is known about its cause and cure

Motor neurone disease (MND) is an uncommon condition that affects the brain and nerves, causing weakness that gets worse over time

Tuesday, 22nd September 2020, 12:13 pm

But what are the symptoms, when should you see a GP and when is Motor Neurone Disease Awareness Day?

Here’s everything you need to know.

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Motor neurone disease (MND) is an uncommon condition that affects the brain and nerves, causing weakness that gets worse over time (Photo: Shutterstock)

What are the symptoms of motor neurone disease?

The NHS explains that symptoms of motor neurone disease happen gradually and may not be obvious at first.

Early symptoms can include:

- weakness in your ankle or leg – you might trip, or find it harder to climb stairs

- slurred speech, which may develop into difficulty swallowing some foods

- a weak grip – you might drop things, or find it hard to open jars or do up buttons

- muscle cramps and twitches

- weight loss – your arms or leg muscles may have become thinner over time

- difficulty stopping yourself from crying or laughing in inappropriate situations

When should I see a GP?

You should see a GP if:

- you think you may have early symptoms of motor neurone disease – they'll consider other possible conditions and can refer you to a neurologist, if necessary

- a close relative has motor neurone disease or frontotemporal dementia and you're worried you may be at risk of it – they may refer you for genetic counselling to talk about your risk and the tests you can have

The NHS notes, “It's unlikely you have motor neurone disease, but getting a correct diagnosis as early as possible can help you get the care and support you need.”

Is there a cure for MND?

There's no cure for MND, but there are treatments to help reduce the impact it has on a person's daily life. Some people live with the condition for many years.

“MND can significantly shorten life expectancy and, unfortunately, eventually leads to death,” explains the NHS.

When is Motor Neurone Disease Awareness Day?

Global MND awareness day takes place every year on 21 June.

For this year’s Motor Neurone Disease Awareness Day, which has now taken place, the Motor Neurone Disease Association explained that the focus is on highlighting the support it is providing to people affected by MND, “thanking those who are helping us to do that and encouraging the MND community to reach out to each other”.