These are the signs and symptoms of Motor Neurone Disease - and when to see a doctor

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

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

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But what are the symptoms and how easy are they to spot?

Here’s what you need to know.

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 buttonsmuscle 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.