Motor neuron disease

This article is about a category of neurological disorders. The term "motor neurone disease" is also used to refer to the specific motor neuron disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
Motor neuron disease
motor neurone disease[1]

spinal diagram
Classification and external resources
Specialty Neurology
ICD-10 G12.2
ICD-9-CM 335.2
DiseasesDB 8358
MeSH D016472

A motor neuron disease (MND) is any of several neurological disorders that selectively affect motor neurons, the cells that control voluntary muscles of the body. They include amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), primary lateral sclerosis (PLS), progressive muscular atrophy (PMA), progressive bulbar palsy (PBP) and pseudobulbar palsy; spinal muscular atrophies are also sometimes included in the group.[2] They are neurodegenerative in nature and cause increasing disability and eventually, death.[3]


In the United States, the term is often used to denote ALS, the most common disorder in the group.[2] In the United Kingdom, the term is spelled motor neurone disease (MND) and is sometimes used for the entire group;[4] but mostly it refers to ALS.[5]

While MND refers to a specific subset of similar diseases, there are numerous other diseases of motor neurons that are referred to collectively as "motor neuron disorders", for instance disease belonging to spinal muscular atrophies.[3] However, they are not classified as "motor neuron diseases" by the tenth International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-10), which is the definition followed in this article.


Motor neuron diseases affect either upper motor neurons (UMN) or lower motor neurons (LMN), or both:

Type UMN degeneration LMN degeneration
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) Yes Yes
Primary lateral sclerosis (PLS) Yes No
Progressive muscular atrophy (PMA) No Yes
Progressive bulbar palsy (PBP) No Yes, bulbar region
Pseudobulbar palsy Yes, bulbar region No


  1. Neilson, Stuart; Rose, Frank Clifford. Motor Neurone Disease: The 'at Your Fingertips' Guide. Class Publishing Ltd. p. 2. ISBN 9781859590478. Retrieved 4 August 2016.
  2. 1 2 "Motor Neuron Diseases Fact Sheet: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)". Retrieved 7 November 2010.
  3. 1 2 Ellison, edited by Seth Love, David N. Louis, David W. (2008). Greenfield's neuropathology (8th ed.). London: Hodder Arnold. p. 947. ISBN 9780340906811.
  4. "Different types of MND". motor neurone disease association. Retrieved 4 August 2016.
  5. "About MND". motor neurone disease association. Retrieved 4 August 2016.

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