What is Upper Motor Neuron Lesion? Types, Causes, Symptoms & Remedies

Upper Motor Neuron lesions are a neurological condition that impacts your nerve cells. Read this article to know about this and its causes and symptoms.
Representational image

Representational image

What are upper neuron lesions? Upper neuron lesions are a neurological condition that impacts certain nerve cells that functions in the movement of the body. Motor neurons are the nerve cells that aid the muscle to move, squeeze, and ability to talk, and walk. These nerve cells are found in the brain and the spinal cord.

Forms of motor neurons:

There exist two forms of motor neurons. They are:

Upper motor neurons:

They are into the spinal cord and brain and their functions are to send signs to the lower motor neurons.

Lower motor neurons:

As the upper motor send signs to them, their function is to send signs to the muscles so that it can contract. It is situated in the spinal cord and brain stem.

The portion where the damage occurred is the lesions. When the upper motor neurons are ruined by the lesions, the muscles cannot move and if it stays stable for a prolonged period, it can turn to stiffness and weakness. With time if left untreated, it can get tougher to manage the movement into your body.

What are the causes?

The several conditions that can affect the upper motor neuron are as follows:

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS

Primary lateral sclerosis (PLS)

Traumatic brain injury

Spinal cord injury

Multiple sclerosis

Huntington's disease

What are the signs?

The lesions stop the signals that are to be traveled to the brain and the spinal cord to the muscles. Since the signals are not sent, the muscles are not able to move and it turns to weakness and stiffness.

The potential signs are:

Weak muscles: it can get severe with time.

Overactive reflexes: there exist a tense in the muscles.

Tight muscles: Muscles get tighter can tougher to move.

Clonus: it is a muscle spasm that occurs rhythmic contraction.

This neurological condition can be worsening with time.

How is it diagnosed?

It can be very complicated since the signs are quite the same as other diseases. First of all the doctor can ask you to perform a urine or blood test to check if there is any muscle diseases, infections, or some other conditions which are the same as upper motor neuron lesion.

Then, the doctor will carefully observe your:

Some other tests might also be done to detect the actual problem like:

• Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

• Nerve conduction study

• Spinal tap or lumbar puncture

• Nerve biopsy


The treatment completely depends on the kind of disease which triggered the upper motor neuron lesion.

Medications won't work to cure diseases like ALS or PLS. However, it can treat to some extent to reduce the symptoms.

Below are the names of certain medicines that can help prevent this condition.

Note: Before taking these treatment options, it is always better to consult your doctor.

Muscle relaxants: Baclofen, tizanidine (zanaflex)

ALS drugs: Riluzole (Rilutek)

MS drugs: Diroximel fumarate (vumerity), Cladribine (Mavenclad)

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