Motor neurone disease: Three early warning signs in the hands to look out for

Motor Neurone Disease: Expert on early signs and symptoms

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Motor neurone disease is an uncommon condition affecting the brain and nerves. The condition is nearly always fatal; however, some people live with it for many years. Your hands could indicate your risk to motor neurone disease with any of these three symptoms being warning signs.

The first signs of motor neurone disease vary from person to person.

For some, the early warning symptoms found in a person’s hands could include either stiffness or cramps.

Even though muscle cramps are frequently reported, not a lot is known about this symptom, as research has been limited.

Motor neurone disease often begins with weakness of the muscles in the hands, feet or voice, although it can start in different areas of the body and progress in different patterns and at different rates.

Those suffering with the condition become increasingly disabled.

Sadly, life expectancy after diagnosis is one to five years, with 10 percent of people living no more than 10 years or slightly more.

The onset of symptoms varies but most commonly the disease is first recognised between 20 and 40 years of age, said the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

The health site added: “Generally, the disease progresses very slowly. Early symptoms may include tremor of outstretched hands, muscle cramps during physical activity, and muscle twitches.

“Individuals also may have weakness of the facial, jaw, and tongue muscles, leading to problems with chewing, swallowing, and speaking.

“Over time, individuals develop weakness in the arms and legs, often beginning in the pelvic or shoulder regions.

“They also may develop pain and numbness in the hands and feet.

“However, individuals tend to retain the ability to walk until the later stages of the disease, and many have a normal lifespan.”

Other early symptoms of motor neurone disease include:

  • Muscle aches, cramps, twitching
  • Clumsiness, stumbling
  • Slurred speech, swallowing or chewing difficulty
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle wasting, weight loss
  • Emotional lability – for example, where a slight upset can cause an exaggerated response, such as crying or laughing
  • Cognitive change (changes in thought processes)
  • Respiratory changes.

Experts warn there is no cure for motor neurone disease, but treatment can help reduce the impact the symptoms have on your life.

When it comes to methods to trying to reduce your risk of developing the condition, certain dietary factors may help.

These include consuming a higher intake of antioxidants and vitamin E-rich foods such as almonds, sunflower seeds, salmon, avocado, red sweet peppers, mango or turnips.

Being in a healthy body range with no high-impact exercise could help as interestingly, those with increased physical fitness and a lower body mass index (BMI) have been shown to be associated with a higher risk of motor neurone disease.

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