Neuromuscular diseases

What is a neuromuscular disease?

A neuromuscular disease affects the peripheral nerves (i.e., all nerves in the body, except for those of the brain and spinal cord), the muscles, or the connections between the nerves and muscles. These diseases are rare, often severe, and sometimes fatal. They occur in both children and adults. People with a neuromuscular disease often lose muscle strength either in a specific part of their body or in their entire body, causing disabilities and suffering on a daily basis.

Please note, they are not diseases such as Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis, which affect the central nervous system (brain and/or spinal cord). Neuromuscular diseases affect the peripheral nervous system (i.e., the nerves and muscles of your arms, legs, trunk, … which allow movement and touch).

Currently, there are few treatments for neuromuscular diseases. However, thanks to ongoing scientific research, new drugs are discovered each year.

In total, according to the classification used, between 62 and 371 different neuromuscular diseases exist. Some of them have a genetic origin. Here is an overview:


Muscular dystrophies

Myotonic and relaxation disorders


Disorders of the neuromuscular transmission

Disorders of the motor neurons


Hereditary ataxias


Sciensano manages the content of the Belgian neuromuscular diseases registry (BNMDR) since 2008. The registry is essential for the development of new treatments for neuromuscular diseases.

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