Motor Neurone Disease

Motor Neurone Disease

What is Motor Neurone Disease?

Motor Neurone Disease (MND) is a rare neurological condition, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. It affects the brain and nerves. It worsens over time and causes weakness that can make life difficult. 

MND can also significantly shorten life expectancy and eventually leads to death, although treatment can extend the lifespan of patients somewhat. It’s believed that around 5,000 people live with motor neurone disease in the UK.


What are the symptoms of Motor Neurone Disease?

Symptoms of Motor Neurone Disease progress slowly over time. They may not be obvious at first and so a diagnosis can often be overlooked. However, there are some early symptoms to look out for. These include:

  • Weakness in ankles or legs; for example, a person might trip frequently, or find it harder to climb stairs
  • Slurred speech
  • Difficulty swallowing some foods
  • Weak grip 
  • Loss of dexterity in fingers
  • Muscle cramps and twitches
  • Weight loss
  • Arms or leg muscles becoming weaker or thinner over time
  • Difficulty preventing one’s self from crying or laughing in inappropriate situations

There’s no specific test for Motor Neurone Disease and several conditions can cause similar symptoms, making it even harder to identify in some cases. To help rule out other conditions, a neurologist may arrange:

  • Blood tests
  • Brain and spine scans
  • Tests to measure the electrical activity in your muscles and nerves
  • A lumbar puncture, also known as a spinal tap

What causes Motor Neurone Disease?

Motor Neurone Disease is a rare condition that mainly affects people in their 60s and 70s, but it can occur in adults of all ages. Experts have confirmed that it’s caused by a problem with cells in the brain and nerves called motor neurones. However, it’s not known why it happens to specific people. Over time, these cells gradually stop working, causing the symptoms noted above to exhibit themselves.

It’s believed that having a close relative with Motor Neurone Disease, or a related condition called frontotemporal dementia, can mean that a person is more likely to get it. However, this is not a rule and it’s not guaranteed to be passed on through families.


What treatment options are available for Motor Neurone Disease?

There’s no cure for Motor Neurone Disease, but treatment can help reduce the impact the symptoms have on a patient’s life and help to extend the lifespan somewhat. Usually, people with motor neurone disease will be treated by a team of specialists and their GP.

These treatments will often include:

  • Highly specialised clinic visits, often involving a specialist nurse and occupational therapy to help make everyday tasks easier
  • Physiotherapy and exercises to maintain strength and reduce stiffness
  • Speech and language therapy
  • Dietary advice
  • Riluzole, a medicine that can slightly slow down the progression of the condition
  • Medicines to relieve muscle stiffness and help with salivation problems
  • Emotional support
  • End-of-life care

How can medical cannabis help with Motor Neurone Disease?

When traditional methods fail to provide relief, medical cannabis can help to improve the quality of life for people living with Motor Neurone Disease. In a study from 2014, ‘Safety and efficacy of nabiximols on spasticity symptoms in patients with motor neuron disease (CANALS)’, researchers Nilo Riva MD, Gabriele Mora MD, Gianni Sorarù MD, Christian Lunetta MD, Ottavia E Ferraro MSc, and Yuri Falzone MD et al., found a positive correlation between improved mobility and cannabinoids.

Specifically, they found that “nabiximols had a positive effect on spasticity symptoms in patients with Motor Neurone Disease”. As spasticity has a severe effect on the quality of life and degree of disability for people with MND, this level of improvement could greatly impact their lives moving forward.

The Medical Cannabis Clinics’ team is dedicated to raising awareness about how medical cannabis can help with a range of neurological conditions, including motor neurone disease. Your prescription can be tailored to suit your individual circumstances and needs, with ongoing support and adjustments made as necessary.

At The Medical Cannabis Clinics, we offer personalised treatment plans and private care for patients through online video link consultations with our expert specialist doctors, who will guide you through the treatment options available from the clinic.

Appointments start from just £70. Book a private consultation today and one of our expert specialist doctors will be able to offer you targeted advice and treatment plans, unique to your needs and symptoms.

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