What is Muscular Dystrophy? Types Symptoms, Causes, And Its Treatment

Home » Muscular Dystrophy: Types Symptoms, Causes, and More
Garry Stewart
Written By Shasta Wilson

February 1, 2022

Medical Condition Muscular Dystrophy - Types, Symptoms, Causes and treatment

Muscular Dystrophy refers to a group of diseases causing progressive weakness and muscle mass loss.

The abnormal genes interfere with the protein production required to form a healthy muscle in this health condition. There are several kinds of Muscular Dystrophy but let us begin with getting acquainted with symptoms of the health condition.

Symptoms of Muscular Dystrophy

The primary sign of the health condition is progressive muscle weakness. Specific symptoms start at different ages depending upon the type of Muscular Dystrophy.

1. Duchenne Type Muscular Dystrophy

Duchenne type muscular dystrophy is the most common form of health condition. This type is more common in boys, but girls can also be the mildly affected carriers.

The symptoms that usually appear in early childhood include:

  • Difficulty rising from a particular position
  • Frequent falls
  • Waddling gait
  • Trouble jumping and running
  • Poor posture
  • Mild intellectual impairment
  • Walking on the toes
  • Muscle stiffness and pain
  • Large calf muscles
  • Delayed growth
  • Learning disabilities

2. Becker Muscular Dystrophy

The symptoms of Becker Muscular Dystrophy are similar to those of the Duchenne form but tend to progress more slowly and mildly. The symptoms usually begin in the teens but might not occur in the mid-20s or later.

Symptoms of Becker Muscular Dystrophy may include

  • Frequent falls
  • Walking on the toes
  • Trouble getting up from the floor
  • Muscle cramps

3. Myotonic Muscular Dystrophy

Myotonic is usually characterized by the inability to relax the muscles following the contractions. When it comes to muscle contractions, neck and face muscles are the first to be affected. People affected with this form usually have thin faces, swan-like necks, and drooping eyelids.

This type can affect a person’s facial muscles, heart, adrenal glands, eyes, thyroid, and gastrointestinal tract. However, the symptoms of this type include

  • Drooping muscles in the face
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Poor vision
  • Weight loss
  • Increased sweating
  • Droopy eyelids
  • Early baldness.

4. Facioscapulohumeral Muscular Dystrophy

Facioscapulohumeral (FSHD) is a type of Muscle Dystrophy in which muscle weakness usually starts in the face, shoulders, and hip.

This form usually occurs in the teenage years but can also begin in childhood or as late as the ’50s.

However, this type of muscular Dystrophy may include difficulty swallowing, chewing, and a crooked mouth appearance.

5. Congenital Muscular Dystrophy

This type of muscular Dystrophy affects girls and boys and is visible at birth or before the age of 2.
The symptoms of this type may include:

  • Muscle weakness
  • Scoliosis
  • Poor motor control
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Vision issues
  • Respiratory issues
  • Speech problems

6. Limb-Girdle Muscular Dystrophy

During the Limb-Girdle Muscular Dystrophy type, the shoulders and hips are the first parts that are generally affected first. And people with this form of muscular Dystrophy have difficulty lifting the foot’s front part. This type begins typically in the teenage or childhood.

When do you need to see a medical doctor?

If you experience frequent muscle weakness, increased falling, or clumsiness, seek professional help immediately.

Causes of Muscular Dystrophy

Specific genes are generally involved in making proteins that defend the muscle fibers. Muscle Dystrophy takes place when one of these defensive genes is defective.

Each form of health condition is caused due to the genetic mutation specific to the disease type. However, most of these genetic mutations are inherited.

Muscular Dystrophy takes place in all ages, races, and both sexes. The most common type is the Duchenne that usually takes place in boys. However, people with a family history of the health condition are generally at a higher risk of developing the disease and passing it to their children.

Complications Involved!

The complications associated with progressive muscle weakness include:

  • Trouble walking: People with health conditions experience difficulty walking and eventually need a wheelchair.
  • Shortening of muscles: The contractions or shortening of the muscles can further limit mobility.
  • Trouble using arms: Performing the daily activities can become more complicated if the shoulders and muscles are affected.
  • Breathing issues: Progressive muscle weakness can affect the muscles associated with breathing. However, people with a health condition may eventually require a breathing assistance device.
  • Swallowing Issues: While having the health condition, if the muscles associated with the swallowing are affected, aspiration pneumonia and nutritional issues can develop.
  • Heart Issues: Muscular Dystrophy can also diminish the heart muscle’s efficiency.
  • Curved Spine: The muscle’s weakness can also be unable to hold the spine straight.

Diagnosis of Muscular Dystrophy

To diagnose the health condition, the medical doctor may ask the queries concerning the medical history and perform a physical examination. After assessing it on a basic level, the doctor might recommend the following:

  • Enzyme tests
    The affected and damaged muscles liberate the enzymes like creatine kinase in the blood. And the higher blood levels of Creatine Kinase suggest a muscle disease.
  • Muscle Biopsy
    During the muscle biopsy, a small piece of muscle can be eradicated with the help of a hollow needle.
  • Genetic Testing
    During genetic testing, blood samples are examined for mutation in genes that lead to Muscular Dystrophy.
  • Lung monitoring tests
    Lung monitoring tests are generally recommended to verify lung functioning.
  • Heart monitoring tests
    Heart monitoring tests are performed to verify the heart’s functioning.
  • Electromyography
    In electromyography, an electric needle is inserted into the muscles to be tested.

Treatment of Muscle Dystrophy

Though there is no exact cure for the health condition, the treatments of dealing with the disease can facilitate extending the time a person with the health condition can remain mobile. Although the trials to deal with muscle dystrophy are ongoing.

Treatment options for muscle dystrophy include medicines, physical therapies, and surgical procedures.

Medications include

When it comes to dealing with the health condition, the medications your doctor might recommend includes:

  • Corticosteroids like deflazacort and prednisone can help muscle strengthening and delay the progression.

     

  • Eteplirsen is the first medication approved by FDA to deal primarily with Duchenne muscular Dystrophy.
  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme is a heart medication given if the health condition damages the heart.

Therapies include

Several therapies can improve the quality of life and help people manage muscular Dystrophy.

The examples of physical therapies may include:

  • Stretching exercises

     

  • Range of motion
  • Exercising
  • Mobility aids
  • Braces
  • Breathing assistance

Surgery

In extreme cases, surgery might be required to correct the muscle contractions or a spinal curvature that can make the breathing activity a bit more complicated.

Coping with Muscular Dystrophy

The diagnosis of the health condition can be pretty challenging. But to cope with the health condition, one must seek a professional doctor’s advice. So, you must take good care of a few things. You must:

  • Write down the symptoms.

     

  • When you have experienced the symptoms first.
  • Share the essential medical information, including other conditions.
  • Share with your doctor whether you have a family history of the health condition.

Questions you must ask your doctor

  • What is the most likely cause of the health condition?

     

  • What tests are required?
  • What complications are involved with the health condition?
  • What is the long-term outlook of the health condition?
  • What treatments are recommended?

Bottom Line!

Though there is no cure for the health condition, therapies and medications can help manage the symptoms and slow down the progression.

In order to handle the symptoms, people are finding relief in natural remedies. However, to acquire any treatments, a patient must consult the medical doctor to identify the medications and appropriate dosage.

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