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Motor neurone disease (MND) is an uncommon condition that affects cells in the brain and nerves, called motor neurones. The condition causes muscle weakness that gets worse over time.
Motor neurone disease arises when brain and nerve cells called motor neurones become damaged and gradually stop working over time.
It is not known why these cells become damaged. However, your risk of developing the condition may be increased by things such as:
The symptoms of motor neurone disease usually develop gradually. Early symptoms can include:
Symptoms tend to affect certain parts of the body early on, but as the disease progresses, the symptoms usually spread to other areas of the body.
Upper motor neurone disease is caused by changes to nerve cells in the brain or spinal cord (known as the central nervous system).
Symptoms of upper motor neurone disease tend to affect the mouth and throat first before spreading to the limbs. Symptoms include stiffness, clumsiness, and awkward movements.
Lower motor neurone disease is caused by changes to nerve cells that supply the muscles of the body (the peripheral nervous system).
Symptoms of lower motor neurone disease include facial weakness, difficulty speaking and swallowing, and muscle weakness, cramps and wasting.
Motor neurone disease can be a life-shortening condition for many people. Speak to your doctor if you have, or think you have, motor neurone disease. They will be able to provide you with more information about life expectancy and sources of support for living with the condition.
Having a close relative with motor neurone disease can increase your risk of getting motor neurone disease. However, the condition does not run in families in most cases.
Important: Our website provides useful information but is not a substitute for medical advice. You should always seek the advice of your doctor when making decisions about your health.