Motor neurone disease treatment focusses on managing symptoms. There is currently no cure for the disease, but research continues in this area.
There is one key drug treatment available called Riluzole, which slows down the progression of the disease and can increase life expectancy by a couple of months. It does not reverse the damage already caused by the disease, it isn’t suitable for everybody and some people choose not to take it.
There are many general medications available that may provide some relief from symptoms such as pain or inflammation, and your neurologist or GP is able to prescribe these to you.
Some people require surgical procedures or special medical equipment to help them eat or breathe independently during the later stages of their disease, such as:
• Percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) tube – this procedure inserts a feeding tube into a person’s stomach when they are unable to eat orally, and allows special, nutrient full liquid food to be syringed into the tube
• Non-invasive mechanical ventilation (NIV) – this is a ventilator machine, used when a person is struggling to breathe, either for short periods during the day or night, or all the time
A motor neurone disease diagnosis usually results in you having a team of health and social care professionals to support you:
• A physiotherapist may assist with muscle, joint and walking difficulties
• A speech and language therapist may assist with swallowing, eating, drinking and speaking difficulties
• An Occupational Therapist may assist with adapting your daily tasks and environment to enable you to carry out activities
• A neurologist will monitor the progression of your disease
• A GP and sometimes a specialist nurse may provide other healthcare support and monitoring
Some people also find that counselling can help them and their family cope with the challenges of having motor neurone disease. For more information on counselling and how to find a counsellor, visit the NHS website.
Some people choose to explore complementary therapies as motor neurone disease treatments, such as acupuncture, reflexology, massage, reiki, etc. Many people report that these treatments provide relaxation, comfort and reduce negative emotions such as stress and depression, but they will not reverse or slow down the progression of the disease.