Skip to content

    Brain & Nervous System Health Center

    Font Size

    Motor Neuron Disease

    It is possible that the main title of the report Motor Neuron Disease is not the name you expected. Please check the synonyms listing to find the alternate name(s) and disorder subdivision(s) covered by this report.


    • Motoneuron Disease
    • Motoneurone Disease
    • Motor Neuron Syndrome
    • Motor Neurone Disease

    Disorder Subdivisions

    General Discussion

    Motor neuron disease comprises a group of severe disorders of the nervous system characterized by progressive degeneration of motor neurons (neurons are the basic nerve cells that combine to form nerves). Motor neurons control the behavior of muscles. Motor neuron diseases may affect the upper motor neurons, nerves that lead from the brain to the medulla (a part of the brain stem) or to the spinal cord, or the lower motor neurons, nerves that lead from the spinal cord to the muscles of the body, or both. Spasms and exaggerated reflexes indicate damage to the upper motor neurons. A progressive wasting (atrophy) and weakness of muscles that have lost their nerve supply indicate damage to the lower motor neurons.


    Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Association
    27001 Agoura Road
    Suite 250
    Calabasas Hills, CA 91301-5104
    Tel: (818)880-9007
    Fax: (818)880-9006
    Tel: (800)782-4747
    TDD: (818)593-3540

    Families of Spinal Muscular Atrophy
    925 Busse Road
    Elk Grove Village, IL 60007
    Tel: (847)367-7620
    Tel: (800)886-1762

    Motor Neurone Disease Association
    PO Box 246
    Northampton, NN1 2BG
    United Kingdom
    Tel: 01604250505
    Fax: 441604624726

    Muscular Dystrophy Association
    3300 East Sunrise Drive
    Tucson, AZ 85718-3208
    Tel: (520)529-2000
    Fax: (520)529-5300
    Tel: (800)572-1717

    NIH/National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
    P.O. Box 5801
    Bethesda, MD 20824
    Tel: (301)496-5751
    Fax: (301)402-2186
    Tel: (800)352-9424
    TDD: (301)468-5981

    MND Scotland
    76 Firhill Rd
    Glasgow, G20 7BA
    Tel: 01419451077
    Fax: 01419452578

    International Alliance of ALS/MND Associations
    P.O. Box 246
    Northampton, NN1 2PR
    United Kingdom
    Tel: 441604611821
    Fax: 441604624726

    Genetic and Rare Diseases (GARD) Information Center
    PO Box 8126
    Gaithersburg, MD 20898-8126
    Tel: (301)251-4925
    Fax: (301)251-4911
    Tel: (888)205-2311
    TDD: (888)205-3223

    Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration
    Radnor Station Building #2, Suite 320
    290 King of Prussia Road
    Radnor, PA 19087
    Tel: (267)514-7221
    Tel: (866)507-7222

    For a Complete Report:

    This is an abstract of a report from the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD). A copy of the complete report can be downloaded free from the NORD website for registered users. The complete report contains additional information including symptoms, causes, affected population, related disorders, standard and investigational therapies (if available), and references from medical literature. For a full-text version of this topic, go to and click on Rare Disease Database under "Rare Disease Information".

    The information provided in this report is not intended for diagnostic purposes. It is provided for informational purposes only. NORD recommends that affected individuals seek the advice or counsel of their own personal physicians.

    It is possible that the title of this topic is not the name you selected. Please check the Synonyms listing to find the alternate name(s) and Disorder Subdivision(s) covered by this report

    This disease entry is based upon medical information available through the date at the end of the topic. Since NORD's resources are limited, it is not possible to keep every entry in the Rare Disease Database completely current and accurate. Please check with the agencies listed in the Resources section for the most current information about this disorder.

    For additional information and assistance about rare disorders, please contact the National Organization for Rare Disorders at P.O. Box 1968, Danbury, CT 06813-1968; phone (203) 744-0100; web site or email

    Last Updated: 9/23/2007
    Copyright 1989, 1992, 1999, 2006, 2007 National Organization for Rare Disorders, Inc.

    WebMD Medical Reference from the National Organization for Rare Disorders

    Last Updated: May 28, 2015
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

    Today on WebMD

    nerve damage
    Learn how this disease affects the nervous system.
    senior woman with lost expression
    Know the early warning signs.
    woman in art gallery
    Tips to stay smart, sharp, and focused.
    medical marijuana plant
    What is it used for?
    woman embracing dog
    boy hits soccer ball with head
    red and white swirl
    marijuana plant
    brain illustration stroke
    nerve damage
    Alzheimers Overview
    Graphic of number filled head and dna double helix