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Motor Neuron Disease (MND): Types, Causes and Treatment

08 September, 2020 Atheeva Santosh

Motor neuron disease (MND) is the collective name given for a group of diseases that affects the motor nerves or motor neurons of your body. Motor neurons are responsible for enabling various movements in your body. These are a type f nerve cell that sends a message all over your body to carry out movements. Motor neuron diseases are rare and develop usually in people above 40 years of age. It can affect both men and women. There are mainly two kinds of motor neurons:

Upper motor neurons: These neurons are present in your brain. They send messages to the spinal cord from the brain

Lower motor neurons: These neurons are present in your spinal cord. They transmit the messages from the brain to other muscles.

When these motor neurons or nerve cells die or get damaged, the proper transmission of the electrical signals or messages from the brain to the muscles don’t take place. And gradually your muscles will waste away, a condition doctors call as atrophy. When this happens then there will be a lack of control over the movements and it will become difficult to walk, talk, swallow, and even breathe.

Motor Neuron Disease Types

3MEDS –the best online medical app in Delhi brings to you various types of MNDs.

ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis)

This condition is also called Lou Gehrig’s disease. It is one of the most common motor neuron diseases. This affects both upper and lower motor neurons. The renowned personality Stephen Hawking lived with ALS for many decades till his death in 2018.  It mainly affects the muscles of the arms, leg, mouth, and respiratory system. With supportive care, people with ALS are able to live more than 10 years after the disease.

PLS (Primary lateral sclerosis)

It is a rare form of MND that advances at a slow rate compared to ALS. This condition is not fatal but this condition can affect the quality of life.  Children can also be sometimes affected with juvenile primary lateral sclerosis.

PBP (Progressive muscular atrophy)

This condition is also a rare MND that affects the lower motor neurons in the spinal cord. It causes muscle wasting in arms, legs, and mouth. It keeps progressing slowly only.

Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA)

This is an inherited MND that affects children. This occurs due to a defect in the gene called SMN1 which causes spinal atrophy. This gene is responsible for making a protein that protects the motor neurons. When there is a defect in these genes or when they die, it results in weakness in the upper legs and arms and the trunk. There are different types of SMA based on varying symptoms.

Kennedy’s Disease

This type of MND is again an inherited condition that affects only males. Females can be a carrier of the disease but don’t get affected by the disease. There is a 50% chance of a mother passing on the disease to her son. Males with Kennedy disease tend to have muscle cramps and twitches, shaking hands, weakness in face, arms, and legs. They may find difficulty in swallowing and speaking. Also, men can have enlarged breasts and low sperm count due to this disease.

Motor Neuron Disease Causes

The exact reason for developing MND is unknown. Generally, it is believed to be caused by a combination of environment, genetic factors, and lifestyle. Most cases of MND occur without any specific identifiable cause. Other few cases are caused due to genetic mutation or family history with members of the family affected with MND.

Motor Neuron Disease Treatment

Currently, there is no cure for motor neuron disease. But certain treatments are provided to reduce the symptoms and effect of the disease. Supportive care treatments are provided for the betterment of lifestyles. Treatments mainly aim at providing supportive devices and physical therapy.


Some drugs are recommended by doctors to slow the progression of the disease. These are mainly Radicava for treating ALS and Spinraza and Zolgensma for treating SMA.

Along with these medicines sometimes pain relievers like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are also provided to ease the pain from muscle spasms.

Sometimes antidepressants are also given for uncontrollable laughter or crying which doctors call as emotional lability.

Botox injections are also given to provide relief from muscle stiffness. Baclofen is also a muscle relaxer that helps in relieving spasms and yawning.

Other than medications, assistive devices for moving around, communication, swallowing, and breathing are provided to improve the quality of life. Physical therapies are also conducted to help maintain mobility and function of the muscles.

The bottom line

Motor neuron disease life expectancy varies according to the type and symptoms of MND. People with spinobulbar muscular atrophy can expect to have a normal lifespan. All other types have reduced life expectancy. Living with MND is challenging and therefore a strong community and specialist support are needed for the patients. Take of people with MND and make sure to provide them better assistance and medical supplies. Buy medicines online with a discount in Delhi to keep a well stock of the medicines.