Motor Neurone Disease



What is Motor Neurone Disease?

There are motor nerves in the spinal cord and brain that control the muscles of the body. When these nerves are attacked by diseases, messages being sent to the muscles are slowly being stopped, gradually leading to muscle weakness, wasting and stiffness. These symptoms will worsen over time as motor neurone disease (MND) is a progressive disease, and it affects how one walks, talks, breathes, eats and drinks.

These motor neurones can be divided in two


Upper Motor Neurones



Lower Motor Neurones



They run from the brain into the spinal cord sending messages and instructions. When there is upper motor neurone damage, muscles become weak and stiff.



They run from the spinal cord and they control and send instructions to the muscles. Floppy and weak muscles are caused when damage is present in the lower motor neurones.


This condition can be divided into four main types depending on which motor neurone is being affected.

  1. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)

Both upper and lower motor neurones and mostly causes limb weakness and wasting

  1. Progressive bulbar palsy (PBP)

Both upper and lower motor neurones and affects speaking and swallowing abilities

  1. Progressive muscular atrophy (PMA)

Lower motor neurones affected and significant longer survival

  1. Primary lateral sclerosis (PLS)

Very rare and upper motor neurones affected

What are the causes for Motor Neurone Disease?

It is not possible to give a clear cause for MND, as different causes such as genetics and environmental factors are likely to play a role. Some MNDs are inherited whilst others happen randomly. Some of the risk factors associated apart from being hereditary, are; age (over 40, though they most likely appear between 55 and 75 years old) and the male population.

MND will affect everyone completely different, as not everyone will experience the same symptoms. Symptoms may vary and the speed of development of such symptoms will also depend of each condition. It is important to know, that even though MND cannot be stopped or reversed, there are medications, therapies and equipment that can help the management of symptoms. It is fundamental to achieve the best quality of life.

Examples of symptoms of Motor Neuron Disease 

  • Muscle weakness
  • Spasms, cramps and twitches
  • Stiff joints
  • Pain
  • Slurred speech and communication problems
  • Swallowing difficulties
  • Saliva issues
  • Weakened coughing
  • Breathing problems
  • Inappropriate emotional responses
  • Thinking and behavioural changes

Our team of Podiatrists’ can help with general foot care but if one of your symptoms is weakened muscles in the lower limb which causes foot drop , then a brace can be supplied in the short to medium term to aid walking and prevent tripping.

MND as previously mentioned before, will gradually worsen over time, and unfortunately this condition is eventually fatal. Moving around, swallowing and breathing will increasingly become more and more difficult.

This disease can be quite challenging for patients, family and friends, and it is important to speak to your GP to receive more support if needed.

As this blog is about motor neurone disease, it is worth mentioning and remembering Stephen William Hawking (1942 – 2018), he was the former Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge. In 1963, Hawking contracted motor neurone disease and was given two years to live, sadly he passed away earlier this month. He has been an inspiration to millions and we should all try and succeed in life, no matter how difficult it may seem, just as he did. As professor Hawking said, “Black holes are not as black as they are painted, it is possible to escape from a black hole of despair, so if you feel you are in a black hole, don’t give up –  there’s a way out”. You can find more information about Stephen Hawking here.

Our Chiropodists / Foot Specialists here at The Footcare Centre will always care and treat feet of those patients suffering from MND. To book an appointment call 905+357-0214 or book online

This blog has been written by Steven Castillo Pinel and is not necessarily the opinion of The Footcare Centre.

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