Muscular Dystrophy

The diseases which affect the muscles

What is Muscular Dystrophy?

Muscular dystrophy is a group of muscle diseases that cause muscles to weaken and breakdown over time.

Genes protect muscle fibres from getting damaged when one of the genes are faulty muscle dystrophy occurs.

The disorders can be mild, intense and severe as it varies how fast they worsen and when the symptoms begin.

Types of Muscular Dystrophy:

There are two major types of Muscular Dystrophy;  Duchenne” and Becker”. 

Duchenne muscular dystrophy is one of the most severe kind of muscular dystrophy. It begins during early childhood.

Becker muscular dystrophy is very similar to Duchenne muscular dystrophy but begins later during adolescence and is milder. These dystrophies mostly occur in boys.

Some of the others types include:

  • Myotonic
  • Limb-girdle
  • Facioscapulohumeral
  • Congenital
  • Oculopharyngeal
  • Distal
  • Emery-Dreifuss


A few types of muscular dystrophy affect only males and they live normally with mild symptoms while for others it is severe. 

Duchenne muscular dystrophy is the most common and the most severe form, it mostly affects boys and 1 out of every 3,500 boys have it. 


To diagnose muscular dystrophy, a doctor will ask for the family history, physical examination will be done, tests will be conducted and then reports will confirm.

The doctor might recommend an electromyogram or a nerve study in some situations, which measures the electrical activity of the muscles and nerves which is important in evaluating the disease.

If a diagnosis cannot be made based on all the several tests a muscle biopsy is also performed. These tests usually give the diagnosis in about 70% of the patients but the rest few, however, may not be properly diagnosed. 


Among males who had Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy without having a family history there was an average of 2½ years between when a guardian/parent noticed the first signs and symptoms. The average age at diagnosis for DMD was 5 years.

The weakness begins from hips and pelvis area which then further exceeds causing difficulties in standing.

People may become unsteady and waddle, chances of falling down also increase due to this disease. Moreover, climbing stairs also becomes difficult. 

Several forms of muscular dystrophy will have different affects on the body and it’s systems hence the rate of the diseases causing weaknesses also vary. Some patients can develop problems with breathing because muscles are used to breath.

A few forms of the disease affect heart muscle and can cause heart problems.

A few patients even develop weakness in the swallowing muscle hence need help with eating foods such as mashed foods or liquids are given to them. Moreover, many patients can develop back and spine problems and become wheel chair bound or are operated. 

Furthermore, due to restriction of muscles especially with walking, standing and moving, a lot of patients tend to develop obesity because of a lack of physical activity. 


Some forms of muscular dystrophy can be treated, for example, post polio syndrome in which the patients who had polio as a child can develop muscle weaknesses this can be prevented by vaccinations. 

If a family is aware that they have a family history of a few specific types of muscular dystrophy they can take medications, and genetic information can help them from passing such diseases to their children.

People can also learn about what medications or drugs may lead to damage of the nerves or muscles and hence they can avoid taking such risks. 

There’s no treatment for many forms of muscular dystrophy as the causes are unknown. But medications, physical therapy, operations and surgical procedures can help reduce problems in the back, spine, joints, muscle movements and other parts of the body.