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.
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:
- Heart problems.
- Difficulty swallowing.
What Causes Muscular Dystrophy
Today, there are at least three different scenarios for the development of MD in humans:
- The most popular is a mutation at the genetic level. Often this is the most common cause of the disease.
- 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.
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.