What Is Motor Neuron Disease?

By jolene
Reviewed: Dr. Gromatzky
Feb 16, 2020
Medical Expert Medical Expert

Motor neuron diseases (MNDs) is a term used to categorize a group of diseases where neurodegeneration selectively affects the motor neurons leading to loss of voluntary control of the body’s muscles. Based on the International Classification of Diseases 11 (ICD-11), some of the following disorders are categorized under MNDs: pseudobulbar palsy, primary lateral sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, progressive bulbar palsy, progressive muscular atrophy, and monomelic amyotrophy.

MNDs can be divided into sporadic and hereditary diseases. They can also be grouped into those that mainly affect the upper motor neurons, lower motor neurons, or both. Although different diseases affect patients differently, it leads to movement-related issues such as muscle weakness.

1. Signs and Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of MNDs depend on the specific type of disease but the symptoms are generally movement related. The symptoms tend to begin gradually and worsen after several months. Besides muscle weakness, other symptoms include muscle spasms and muscle cramps. Depending on the type of disease, there can also be difficulty breathing during exertion, orthopnea, respiratory failure, difficulty swallowing, difficulty speaking, excessive saliva production, emotional disturbance, behavioral changes, and more. Some patients also experience muscle wasting, increased muscle tone, cognitive changes, and loss of ability to move.

Motor Neuron Disease

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