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 central nervous system and spinal cord), the muscles, of the connection between nerves and muscles. These diseases are rare, often severe and sometimes fatal. They can affect both children and adults. People who suffer from such a disease often lose muscle power 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 (brains and or spinal cord). Neuromuscular diseases affect the peripheral nervous system (i.e. the nerves and the muscles of arms, legs, trunk, … which allow movement and touch).

Currently, there are few treatments for neuromuscular diseases. Thanks to ongoing research, however, 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


Disorder of the neuromuscular transmission

Disorder of the motor neurons


Hereditary ataxias


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

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