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.


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 MND 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 Public Health Nurse or GP for advice.

Speech and communication issues:

occur for some people living with MND. A speech and language therapist (SLT) 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 (SLT) 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 speech and language therapist (SLT) can teach you techniques to help manage these episodes.


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.

More information on Symptoms can be found in “Your Personal Guide to Motor Neurone Disease” which is available from the Services Department in our offices, Freefone 1800 403 403 (Note this publication is free to all registered MND clients)