Home About MND Symptoms of MND

Symptoms of MND

It is important to realise not every symptom you experience will be caused by MND. You may have another problem which requires medical attention, so please speak to your GP. You may also have a symptom related to MND that is not listed here, as the disease will affect everyone individually. Your GP may be able to provide advice or medication to help relieve your symptoms.

Further detail is provided under Information for download at the bottom of this page. When you are ready, you may also wish to read additional publications as listed in the Everyday living pages of our Life with MND section.

Common symptoms and effects of MND

Pain and discomfort: are not caused directly by MND, but may have several indirect causes. Your GP should be able to prescribe a suitable painkiller.

Muscle cramps and spasms: may be relieved by changing position when relaxing in a chair or bed. If this is not helpful your doctor may be able to provide a muscle relaxant.

Stiff joints: can be helped with gentle exercise. A physiotherapist will be able to determine an exercise programme appropriate for your needs.

Incontinence: is not usually associated with MND, but may occur if mobility is restricted and getting to the toilet becomes more difficult. Your occupational therapist and specialist nurse can advise you if this is a problem.

Bowel problems: are not usually caused directly by MND, but constipation may occur due to restricted mobility and/or changes to diet. Increasing fluid and fibre may help, or ask your doctor to prescribe a laxative. Diarrhoea can sometimes happen with a severely constipated bowel. Ask your district nurse or GP for advice.

Speech and communication issues: occur for some people living with MND. A speech and language therapist (SaLT) can help with techniques and suggestions for communication aids.

Eating and drinking difficulties: may become an issue if swallowing is affected. A speech and language therapist (SaLT) can help with techniques and a dietician can advise on changes to diet or equipment to help maintain calorie intake.

Saliva and mucous: may cause issues if problems occur with swallowing. Saliva may pool in the mouth or it may become thick and sticky. In both cases your GP will be able to prescribe medication to help.

Coughing and a feeling of choking: may occur as a result of food or saliva becoming lodged in the airway. A a speech and language therapist (SaLT) can teach you techniques to help manage these episodes.

Breathing: Respiratory muscle weakness affects most people with MND. When this happens you will need a breathing assessment from a respiratory consultant.

Cognitive changes: may occur for some people living with MND, where difficulties with memory, learning, language and poor concentration may be experienced. This is commonly known as cognitive change. Some of these effects may be quite subtle, while for others the change can be more pronounced and noticeable.

Want to discuss your MND symptoms?


Please contact our advice, information and support team MND Connect if you would like to know more or have any questions about symptoms you may be experiencing.


Information for download

Please refer to our Everyday living pages under Life with MND for further publications on specific aspects of MND.

  • Living with motor neurone disease (1188kb)
    Our main guide for people with MND, providing an overview of the disease and how to manage its impact. This can be downloaded or ordered as a printed pack with additional items from our helpline, MND Connect. The guide has been developed to help people with MND achieve the best possible quality of life from diagnosis onwards. It includes top tips, directions to further information and details about accessing support services. (Code: LW002)
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Raise vital funds to help fight MND

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