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Muscular Dystrophy: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Medically reviewed by Sandeep Dhanyamraju
Medically reviewed by Sandeep Dhanyamraju

Maintaining a healthy body tone is an important aspect of every person’s life. Humanity has had success in treating many diseases. But unfortunately, some diseases can cause irreparable changes. This may relate to functionality, mental health, and the fulfillment of basic human needs.

One such disease is muscular dystrophy. This disease is severe in many aspects of a person’s life. Muscle atrophy irrevocably affects a person’s life and can lead to disastrous consequences. In case of such a disease, it is very important to seek timely medical help. The specialist will be able to make the correct diagnosis. And you can start therapy as soon as possible.

We will tell you about all the details of the disease, its symptoms, and its causes in our article. We will also consider the diagnosis and possible treatments of muscle dystrophy. Read the article until the end to have a complete picture of the disease.

 

What Is Muscular Dystrophy?

It is a group of hereditary diseases. This disease can cause muscle weakness and degeneration. Most often, this disease occurs due to mutations in the genes. This leads to the fact that a person’s muscles decrease in size. Often, the muscles decrease so much that a person cannot fully function.

Today the problem of illness can affect the muscles in different ways. And also, the disease affects different muscle groups.

There are different forms of the disease. Some of them may occur in childhood, and some forms of the illness may appear in adulthood.

Today there is no 100% working medicine or method to get rid of the disease. But there is a set of measures that helps to improve the patient’s condition.

 

What Are the Symptoms of Muscular Dystrophy

Common symptoms are:

 

  • Weakness in the muscles. Most often, this sign varies from mild to severe.
  • Breakdown of muscle tissue. As a result of this symptom, a person’s muscles can become smaller and depleted. This is because the muscles don’t have the protein to provide muscle support.
  • Difficulty walking. Due to some types of disorder, some patients have difficulty with coordination. This has a very negative effect on the ability to walk.
  • Difficulties in fine motor skills of the hands. The illness often affects especially small muscles. With the help of such muscles, we write, take objects in our hands or fasten clothes. As a result of these symptoms, a person experiences difficulty using their hands.
  • Respiratory problems are another early sign of muscular dystrophy. Patients who have this disorder often experience breathing problems. This is because the disease affects the muscles responsible for human breathing.
  • Heart problems. Because the heart also works with the help of muscles, the disorder also affects the heart. As a result, patients often complain of heart problems.

 

Now you know what are the symptoms of muscular dystrophy. It’s vital to remember that you should always check your condition. And in case any of these symptoms appear, consult a doctor.

 

Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD)

This is a severe form of disorder. According to statistics, this disease affects 1 out of 3500 newborn boys. This illness appears due to a mutation in the protein-encoding dystrophin. This protein helps keep muscle cells intact.

If there is a lack of dystrophin in muscle cells, they will break down. This often occurs during childhood. It progresses rapidly and leads to the need to use a wheelchair.

 

Becker Muscular Dystrophy (BMD)

This is a less severe form. It appears due to the same mutation in the gene. But the mutation is less severe. Symptoms of DMD may appear later in childhood or even into adulthood. And the progression of the condition is slower. The disease can also affect the heart and respiratory muscles. But the risk of complications is generally lower.

 

Congenital Muscular Dystrophy

This is a group of rare genetic diseases. It causes muscle deformity and weakness. Experts point out that this is due to mutations in the genes responsible for protein production. Some people with this condition may have mild muscle weakness. At the same time, others may have a severe disability.

 

Myotonic Dystrophy 

It is a form characterized by muscle weakness and myotonia. This is a prolonged muscle contraction. It can make it difficult to loosen the grip or relax the muscles. A mutation in the gene that codes for a protein called myotonin protein kinase can cause it. It can affect many different muscle groups and can also cause a range of other symptoms, such as:

  • Cataracts.
  • Heart problems.
  • Difficulty swallowing.

 

What Causes Muscular Dystrophy

Today, there are at least three different scenarios for the development of MD in humans:

 

  1. The most popular is a mutation at the genetic level. Often this is the most common cause of the disease.
  2. Also, there is a risk of inheriting diseases. This often occurs when parents pass on a damaged gene to their child. As a result, the child may get the disease.
  3. Also, unknown damage is what causes muscular dystrophy. This often happens in adulthood. The disease develops rapidly and spontaneously.

 

To keep your health at a good level, you must visit your doctor regularly. Only the specialist can do the necessary tests and analyzes. As a result, the specialist can prescribe a course of treatment in time and make the correct diagnosis.

 

Risk Factors of Muscular Dystrophy

Each person may have a different degree of complexity of the disease. It leads to a range of symptoms that can range from mild to severe. As a result, the prognosis of muscular dystrophy can vary depending on the cause and risk factors.

 

There are several risk factors, including:

 

  • Family history. If a person has a family history of the disease, there’s a risk of developing the condition.
  • Gender. Some types of disorders are more common in males than females. It can be Duchenne disorder,
  • Age. The risk of developing muscle problems increases with age. And some forms of the condition may not appear until later in life.
  • Race. Some types of disorders are more common in certain racial groups. For example, Duchenne disease is more common in people of European ancestry.

 

There are many types of muscular dystrophy, and each of them has its risk factors and early signs. It is important to discuss any family history or concerns about the condition with a healthcare provider. They can help determine a person’s risk and recommend appropriate testing and monitoring.

 

Muscular Dystrophy Diagnosis

Today, there are several options for detecting this disease:

  1. The first step in diagnosing MD is taking a thorough medical history. Your doctor will ask about your family history of MD and your symptoms. Be sure to give your doctor a complete picture of what you’re experiencing. This way, they can properly analyze your condition.
  2. After taking your medical history, your doctor will order tests to confirm the diagnosis and cure for muscular dystrophy. The most common test used to diagnose MD is a muscle biopsy. This involves removing a small piece of muscle tissue to be examined under a microscope. A muscle biopsy can usually confirm the diagnosis of MD. It’s useful if characteristic changes are seen in the muscle tissue.

 

Other tests include blood tests, electromyography, genetic testing, and MRI imaging:

  • Blood tests may be ordered to check for elevated levels of enzymes. They are released from damaged muscles.
  • EMG testing involves placing electrodes on the skin over the muscles. This way, doctors can measure electrical activity during contractions and at rest. This can help assess the severity of muscle damage.
  • Genetic testing can identify changes in the genes known to cause MD.
  • MRI analyzes the size and structure of muscles and the fatty infiltration present.

 

Treatment of Muscular Dystrophy

There is currently no cure for MD. But there are treatments available that can help improve quality of life. These treatments include:

 

  • Physical therapy. It’s to maintain strength, range of motion, and joint function.
  • Occupational therapy. It helps to teach energy conservation techniques and adaptive strategies. It’s helpful for daily living activities.
  • Exercise. It’s to maintain strength and range of motion. Water exercises are especially beneficial because they reduce stress on joints.
  • Assistive devices. Such as wheelchairs, scooters, standing frames, and splints.
  • Nutritional counseling. It’s to ensure adequate calorie and protein intake.
  • Speech therapy. It helps with speech difficulties caused by weak muscles.
  • Healthy diet. With proper nutrition, the patient will be able to receive all the necessary nutrients and vitamins to maintain the remaining muscle fibers. 

 

As you can see, a person can improve their condition with some therapeutic measures. But to have a higher chance of success, you must seek help on time. This will ensure a timely diagnosis.

 

Bottom Line 

There is currently no cure for muscular dystrophy. But treatments are available to help manage the condition and relieve symptoms. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential for the best possible outcome. If you or your child is showing signs of this disorder, consult a doctor as soon as possible.

 

FAQs

  • What is the life expectancy of muscular dystrophy?

Muscular dystrophy is a progressive condition. It means that it gets worse over time. In general, people with Duchenne muscular dystrophy have the shortest life expectancy. At the same time, those with Becker muscular dystrophy tend to live longer.

  • How common is muscular dystrophy?

Muscular dystrophy is relatively rare. And it affects around 1 in every 3,500 boys worldwide. Duchenne muscular dystrophy is the most common type. It accounts for around 50% of cases.

  • Who might get muscular dystrophy?

Muscular dystrophy usually affects boys, but girls can also be affected in some cases. The condition is usually diagnosed in childhood or adolescence but can occur at any age.

  • What are the complications of muscular dystrophy?

Muscular dystrophy can cause a range of complications, including:

  • Weakness and wasting of the muscles (muscular atrophy).
  • Joint deformities.
  • Heart problems.
  • Respiratory difficulties.
  • Learning difficulties and intellectual disability.
  • Emotional problems such as depression and anxiety.

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Edward Medina
Edward Medina
15:34 30 Jun 22
Just such an amazing staff that makes you feel like part of their family. I’ve been going there for over 5 years now... and each visit I get the very best care and treatments that I have ever received in the 20+ years that I’ve been dealing with severe debilitating migraines. Since i started seeing them the number of my migraines has dropped from 15-20 a month to 2-3 every 3 month. I highly recommend them …they will change your life!read more
Daneisha Johnson
Daneisha Johnson
22:20 19 May 22
Dr. Askari was very kind and explained everything so I could understand. The other staff were nice as well. I would... have gave 5 stars but I was a little taken aback when I checked in and had to pay 600.00 upfront. I think that should have been discussed in a appointment confirmation call or email just so I could have been prepared.read more
Jean Cooper
Jean Cooper
16:54 29 Apr 22
I love the office staff they are friendly and very helpful. Dr. JODIE is very caring and understanding to your needs... and wants to help you. I will go back. would recommend Dr. Dr. Jodie to other Patients in a heart beat. The team works well together.read more
Linda M
Linda M
19:40 02 Apr 22
I was obviously stressed, needing to see a neurologist. The staff was so patient and Dr. Ansari was so kind. At one... point he told me to relax, we have time, when I was relaying my history of my condition. That helped ease my stress. I have seen 3 other neurologists and he was the only one who performed any assessment tests on my cognitive and physical skills. At one point I couldn't complete two assessments and got upset and cried. I was told, it's OK. That's why you're here. I was truly impressed, and super pleased with the whole experience!read more
Leslie Durham
Leslie Durham
15:05 01 Apr 22
I've been coming here for about 5 years. The staff are ALWAYS friendly and knowledgeable. The Doctors are the absolute... best!! Jodie Moore is always in such a great mood which is a plus when you are already stressed. Highly recommendedread more
Monica Del Bosque
Monica Del Bosque
14:13 25 Mar 22
Since my first post my thoughts have changed here. It's unfortunate. My doctor and PA were great, but the office staff... is horrible. They never call you back when they say they will, they misinform you, they cause you too much stress wondering what's going on, they don't keep you posted. They never answer the phone. At this point I've left four messages in the last week, and I have sent three messages. Twice from their portal and one direct email. No response. My appointment is on Monday morning at 8:30am, no confirmation on my insurance and what's going on. What the heck is going on, this is ridiculous!I've given up... the stress her office staff has put me through is just not worth it. You can do so much better, please clean house, either change out your office staff, or find a way for them to be more efficient please. You have to do something. This is not how you want to run your practice. It leaves a very bad impression on your business.read more
Ron Buckholz
Ron Buckholz
23:32 23 Mar 22
I was actually pleasantly surprised with this visit! It took me a long time to get the appointment scheduled because no... one answers your phones EVER! After a month, I finally got in, and your staff was warm, friendly, and I was totally impressed! I feel like you will take care of my needs!read more
Steve Nabavi
Steve Nabavi
16:28 16 Mar 22
It was a nice visit. Happy staff doing all they can do to comfort the patients in a very calming environment. You ask... me they are earned a big gold star on the fridge. My only complaint they didn't give me any cookies.read more
Katie Lewis
Katie Lewis
16:10 10 Feb 22
Had very positive appointments with Jodie and Dr. Sheth for my migraine care. Jodie was so fast with the injections and... has so much valuable info. I started to feel light headed during checkout and the staff was SO helpful—giving me a chair, water, and taking me into a private room until I felt better. Highly recommend this practice for migraine patients, they know what they’re doing!!read more
Joshua Martinez
Joshua Martinez
16:02 10 Dec 21
I was scheduled to be checked and just want to say that the staff was fantastic. They were kind and helpful. I was... asked many questions related to what was going on and not once did I feel as though I was being brushed off. The front desk staff was especially great in assisting me. I'm scheduled to go back for a mri and am glad that I'll be going there.read more
Isabel Ivy
Isabel Ivy
21:42 03 Nov 21
I had such a good experience with Lone Star Neurology, Brent my MRI Tech was so awesome and made sure I was very... comfortable during the appointment. He gave me ear plugs, a pillow, leg support and blanket, easiest MRI ever lol 🤣 My 72 hour EEG nurse Amanda was also so awesome. She made sure I was take care of over the 3 days and took her time with the electrodes to make sure it was comfortable for me! Paige was also a huge help in answering all my questions when it came to my test results, and letting me know her honest opinions about how I should go forth with my treatment.read more
Leslie Luce
Leslie Luce
17:37 20 Oct 21
The professionalism and want to help attitude of this office was present from the moment I contacted them. The follow... up and follow through as well as their willingness to find a way to schedule my dad was above and beyond. We visited two offices in the same day with the same experience. I am appreciative of this—we spend a lot of time with doctors and this was top notch start to finish.read more
robert Parker
robert Parker
16:38 16 Apr 21
I love going to this office. The staff is friendly and helpful. The doctor is great. I am getting the best... neurological tests and treatment I have ever had. The only reason I did not give them a 5 star rating is because it is impossible to reach a live person at the office to reschedule appointments. Every time I have tried to get through to the office it says all people are busy and I am sent to a voicemail. If they could get their phone answering fixed, I would give them a strong 5 stars.read more
MaryAnn Hornbaker
MaryAnn Hornbaker
00:26 25 Feb 21
Dr. Harney is an excellent Dr. I found him friendly , personable and thorough. I evidently am an unusual case. ... Therefore he spent a Hugh amount of time educating me. He even gave me literature to further explain my condition and how to follow up. This is something you rarely get from your doctors. So I am more than please with my doctor and his staff.read more
Roger Arguello
Roger Arguello
03:05 29 Jan 21
Always courteous, professional. The staff is very friendly and always work with you to find the best appointment time.... The care team has been great. Always taking the time to listen to your concerns and to find the best treatment.read more
Margaret Rowland
Margaret Rowland
01:12 27 Jan 21
I have been a patient at Lone Star Neurology for several years. Now both my adult daughters also are patients there. I... love Jodie. She is always so prompt whether it is a teleamed call are a visit in the office. She takes the time to explain everything to me and answers all my questions. I am so blessed to have Jodie as my doctor.read more
Susan Miller
Susan Miller
03:01 13 Jan 21
My husband had an accident 5 years ago and Lone Star Neurology has been such a blessing to us with my husbands care.... Jodie Moore is his provider and she is amazing! Jodie is very knowledgeable, caring, and thorough. She takes her time with you, making sure your needs are met and she is happy to answer any questions you may have. Lone Star Neurology’s patients are very lucky to have Jodie providing their care. Thank you Lone Star Neurology and especially Jodie for everything you have done for us. Jodie, you are the best!read more
Windalyn C
Windalyn C
01:32 09 Jan 21
Jodie is wonderful. She is very caring and knowledgeable. I have been to over a dozen neurologists, and none were able... to help me as much as they have here. Thanks!read more
Katie Kordel
Katie Kordel
00:40 09 Jan 21
Jodi Moore, nurse practitioner, is amazing. I have suffered from frequent, debilitating headaches for almost 20 years.... She has provided the best proactive and responsive care I have ever received. My quality of life has been greatly improved by her caring approach and tenacity in finding solutions.read more
Ellie Natsis
Ellie Natsis
15:41 07 Jan 21
I have had the best experience at this neurologist's office! For over a year I have been receiving iv treatments here... each month and my nurse, Bobbie is beyond wonderful!! She's so attentive, knowledgeable, caring, and detail oriented. She makes an otherwise uncomfortable experience much more pleasant and definitely puts me at ease! She also helps me with my insurance,ordering this specialty medication and dealing with the ordering process which is no easy feat.Needless to say, she goes above a beyond in every way and I'm so grateful to this office and to Bobbie for all they do for me!read more
Matt Morris
Matt Morris
15:39 07 Jan 21
Let me start by saying that I have been coming here for years. Due to my autoimmune disease, I am in this office... once every three weeks for multiple hours at a time. The office is very clean and the staff very friendly. My only complaint would be there communication via phone. They aren't the best at responding if you leave a voicemail and expect a call back. I understand that this is prob just due to the sheer number of alls they receive daily. What I can say I like the best about the office are the people. Bobby who handles my infusions is great. I never have any issues with her setting up my infusions. She is very quick to reply to messages sent via text and if she were to leave then my whole opinion of the office may change. I also enjoy people like Matt, Lauren, and Jodi. I appreciate all that they do for me and without this team I'm not sure I would be as happy as I am to visit the office as frequently as I have to. Please ensure that these folks are recognized as they are what makes my visit to this office so tolerable :).read more
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