• Muscular Dystrophy is a group of diseases that
cause progressive weakness & a loss of muscle
• In MD, abnormal genes (mutations) interfere
with the production of proteins needed to form
• There are many different kinds of Muscular
• Symptoms of the most common variety begin in
childhood, primarily in boys
• Other types don’t surface until adulthood
• Some people who have MD will eventually lose
the ability to walk
• Some may have trouble breathing or swallowing
• There is no cure for Muscular Dystrophy but
medications & therapy can help manage
symptoms & slow the course of the disease
• The main sign of Muscular Dystrophy is
progressive muscle weakness
• Specific signs & symptoms begin at different
ages & in different muscle groups, depending on
the type of Muscular Dystrophy
Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy
• About half of people with Muscular Dystrophy have this type. Although girls can be carriers & mildly affected, the disease typically affects boys.
• About one-third of boys with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy don’t have a family history of the disease
• Signs & symptoms typically appear between the ages of 2 & 3 and may include:
▫ Frequent falls
▫ Difficulty getting up from a lying or sitting position
▫ Trouble running & jumping
▫ Waddling gait
▫ Walking on the toes
▫ Large calf muscles
▫ Muscle pain & stiffness
▫ Learning disabilities
Becker Muscular Dystrophy
• Signs & symptoms are similar to those of
Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, but
typically are milder & progress more
• Symptoms generally begin in the teens
but may not occur until the mid-20s or
(Some) Other Types of MD
• Some types of Muscular Dystrophy are defined by a
specific feature or by where in the body symptoms first
▫ Myotonic. Also known as Steinert's disease, this form is characterized by an inability to relax muscles at will
following contractions. Myotonic Muscular Dystrophy is the
most common form of adult-onset Muscular Dystrophy.
Facial and neck muscles are usually the first to be affected ▫ Facioscapulohumeral (FSHD). Muscle weakness typically
begins in the face and shoulders. The shoulder blades
might stick out like wings when a person with FSHD raises
his or her arms. Onset usually occurs in the teenage years
but may begin in childhood or as late as age 40.
Other Types Cont…
▫ Congenital. This type affects boys and girls
and is apparent at birth or before age 2.
Some forms progress slowly and cause only
mild disability, while others progress rapidly
and cause severe impairment.
▫ Limb-girdle. Hip and shoulder muscles are
usually the first affected. People with this
type of Muscular Dystrophy may have
difficulty lifting the front part of the foot &
may trip frequently. Onset usually begins in
childhood or the teenage years.
• Certain genes are involved in making proteins
that protect muscle fibers from damage.
Muscular Dystrophy occurs when one of these
genes is defective
• Each form of Muscular Dystrophy is caused by a
genetic mutation particular to that type of
• Many of these mutations are inherited but some
occur spontaneously in the mother’s egg or the
developing embryo & can be passed on to the
• Muscular Dystrophy occurs in both sexes & in all
ages and races however, the most common type,
Duchenne, usually occurs in young boys.
• People with a family history of Muscular
Dystrophy are at a higher risk of developing the
disease or passing it on to their children
The complications of progressive muscle weakness
• Inability to walk. Some people with Muscular
Dystrophy eventually need to use a wheelchair
• Shortening of muscles or tendons around joints
(contractures). Contractures can further limit
• Breathing problems. Progressive weakness can affect
the muscles associated with breathing. People with
Muscular Dystrophy may eventually need to use a
breathing assistance device (ventilator), initially at
night but possibly also in the day.
• Curved spine (Scoliosis). Weakened muscles may
be unable to hold the spine straight
• Heart problems. Muscular Dystrophy can reduce
the efficiency of the heart muscle
• Swallowing problems. If the muscles involved
with swallowing are affected, nutritional
problems & pneumonia may develop. Feeding
tubes may be an option.
Tests & Diagnosis
After your doctor finishes the medical history & physical
examination, they may recommend:
• Enzyme tests. Damaged muscles release enzymes, such as
creatine kinase (CK), into your blood. In a person who
hasn't had a traumatic injury, high blood levels of CK
suggest a muscle disease — such as muscular dystrophy.
• Electromyography. An electrode needle is inserted into the muscle to be tested. Electrical activity is measured as you
relax and as you gently tighten the muscle. Changes in the
pattern of electrical activity can confirm a muscle disease. • Genetic testing. Blood samples can be examined for
mutations in some of the genes that cause different types
of muscular dystrophy.
Tests & Diagnosis Cont…
• Muscle biopsy. A small piece of
muscle can be removed through an
incision or with a hollow needle.
Analysis (biopsy) of the tissue sample
can distinguish muscular dystrophies
from other muscle diseases.
• Heart-monitoring tests
echocardiogram). These tests are
used to check heart function.
• Lung-monitoring tests. These tests
are used to check lung function.
Treatments & Drugs
• There’s no cure for any form of Muscular
Dystrophy but treatment can help prevent or
reduce problems in the joints & spine to allow
people with Muscular Dystrophy to remain
mobile as long as possible. Treatment options
include medications, physical therapy, & surgical
& other procedures.
Your doctor may recommend:
• Corticosteroids can help improve muscle
strength and delay the progression of certain
types of Muscular Dystrophy. But prolonged use
of these types of drugs can cause weight gain
and weaken bones, increasing fracture risk.
• Heart medications are prescribed if Muscular
Dystrophy damages the heart.
Several types of therapy and assistive devices can improve quality and sometimes length of life in people who have Muscular Dystrophy. • Range-of-motion and stretching exercises. Muscular Dystrophy can restrict the flexibility and mobility of joints.. Range-of-motion exercises can help to keep joints as flexible as possible.
• Exercise. Low-impact aerobic exercise, such as walking and swimming, can help maintain strength, mobility and general health. Some types of strengthening exercises also might be helpful.
• Braces. Braces can help keep muscles and tendons stretched and flexible, slowing the progression of contractures. Braces can also aid mobility by providing support for weakened muscles.
• Mobility aids. Canes, walkers and wheelchairs can help maintain mobility and independence.
• Breathing assistance. As respiratory muscles weaken, a sleep apnea device may help improve oxygen delivery during the night. Some people with severe MD may need to use a machine that forces air in and out of their lungs (ventilator).
• Surgery may be needed to correct a spinal
curvature that could eventually make breathing
Lifestyle & Home Remedies
• Respiratory infections may become a problem in
later stages of Muscular Dystrophy. It’s
important to be vaccinated for pneumonia & to
keep up to date with flu shots
• Dietary changes haven’t been shown to slow the
progression of MD but proper nutrition is
essential because limited mobility can contribute
to obesity, dehydration & constipation.
Indicated or Contraindicated
Many alternative treatments are often turned to for periodic, symptomatic relief for Muscular Dystrophy. In particular,
massage therapy has been reported to ease a wide range of
MD’s symptoms including:
• Relieving muscle pain
• Relaxing tight or contracted muscles
• Increasing circulation in a deprived area
• Restoring some range of motion
• While never intended to replace or supersede a physician’s advice, adding regular massage therapy sessions to a MD
management plan can help reduce spasms, ease chronically
tightened muscles, and improve the person’s quality of life. • INDICATED!!!