What is MND?

MND is a rare neurological condition that progressively damages the motor neurones or ‘nerves’ in the brain and spinal cord causing the associated muscles to waste away.

MND is an umbrella term to describe a group of related diseases which affect the motor nerves in the brain and spinal cord, which tell your muscles what to do. These affected nerves become damaged, preventing the messages from the nerve reaching the muscles causing weakness and muscle wasting.

Depending on the type of disease it is, the most common muscles to be affected first are those in the hands, feet, mouth and throat and can affect how you walk, talk, eat, drink and breathe.

Types of MND

There are four main types of MND, each affecting people in different ways and each can present in very similar ways, making distinguishing between the types very difficult, so whilst it is useful to seperate the various types of the disease, in practice this is not always possible and you may not be given a specific type of MND immediately.

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is the most common type of MND in the UK, affecting approximetly 85% of those diagnosed. Both upper and lower motor neurones are effected with symptoms usually being problems with gripping things with the hands, dropping things and tripping.

Progressive Bulbar Palsy (PBP) affects approximately a quarter of those diagnosed. Both upper and lower motor neurones are effected and symptoms include slurred speech, choking on certain food textures and coughing when having a drink.

Progressive Muscular Atrophy (PMA) affects less than 10% of those diagnosed and only involves the lower motor neurones. symptoms usually are felt in the arms, with weakness, muscle wasting, clumsiness and weight loss.

Primary Lateral Sclerosis (PLS) is the rarest form of MND and affects only the upper motor neurones. This causes symptoms in the lower limbs, causing increased falls, balance problems and leg weakness.

What causes MND?

Currently there is no known reason for MND, however there is constant work being carried out throughout the UK and worldwide to look into the causes of MND. Approximately 90% of all cases of MND occur in people with no family history; this is known as sporadic MND. Current research indicates that a combination of factors, both genetic and environmental, appears to be the main cause for MND, which makes researching this disease that much harder.

In up to 10% of those with MND, it is caused by a mistake in the genes which is then passed down through families. Very recently new research has identified many of these ‘faulty’ genes and a lot of work is being done to understand why this happens.

Facts and figures



Middlesbrough MND care centre 

2 in every 100,000

Amount of people diagnosed with MND each year (incidence)

4 in every 100,000

5-7 in every 100,000

Amount of people living with MND at anyone time (prevelance)

8 in every 100,000

Affects males most commonly (ratio 2:1)

Which sex group does it affect most commonly?

Affects males most commonly (ratio 2:1)

50-70 years

What age group is most commonly affected?

56-65 years

Find out more about ‘What is MND’ at: www.mndassociation.org/what-is-mnd

For publications and other resources go to: www.mndassociation.org/about-mnd