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Muscular Dystrophy

Muscular Dystrophy: Introduction

Muscular dystrophy is a progressive genetic disorder that causes deterioration of the muscles and eventually leads to muscle wasting, muscle weakness, bone deformities and disability.

The progression and severity of muscular dystrophy varies greatly between individuals and the type of muscular dystrophy. There are nine types of muscular dystrophy, also called MD. The two most common types of muscular dystrophy include Duchenne muscular dystrophy and Becker muscular dystrophy.

The only difference between the two diseases are that the symptoms of Duchenne muscular dystrophy develop earlier in life and progresses more quickly than they do in Becker muscular dystrophy, which begins about age seven. There are also many muscular diseases that are very similar to muscular dystrophy.

General symptoms of muscular dystrophy include muscle weakness and muscle wasting. This is due to the death of muscle cells and tissue, which are then replaced by fat and connective tissue. The muscle weakness often begins in the legs, but the disease eventually progresses to muscles in other parts of the body, resulting in serious complications, including difficulty breathing.

Muscular dystrophy is more common in boys than in girls. Symptoms often begin in infancy or early childhood but can start in adulthood in certain form of muscular dystrophy. For more information on symptoms and complications, refer to symptoms of muscular dystrophy.

Making a diagnosis of muscular dystrophy includes taking a thorough personal and family history, including symptoms, such as muscle weakness, and completing a physical and neurological examination. A neurological exam evaluates the nervous system and such functions as reflexes, sensation, movement, balance, coordination, vision and hearing.

A biopsy of the muscle tissue may be performed to diagnose muscular dystrophy. A biopsy involves taking a small sample or muscle to examine under a microscope to look for changes that are typical of muscular dystrophy. A blood test called a creatine phosphokinase and genetic testing may also be done.

Other tests may include an electromyography (EMG) which tests the electrical activity of muscles. A nerve conduction test may also be ordered to measure the ability of nerves to send electrical signals. This may be done to rule out other conditions.

A diagnosis of muscular dystrophy may be delayed because symptoms may progress slowly in some types of muscular dystrophy and for other reasons. For more information on misdiagnosis, refer to misdiagnosis of muscular dystrophy.

There is no cure or specific treatment for muscular dystrophy, but the disease can be managed and symptoms controlled to help a person be live as normal a life as possible. Treatment may include medication, physical therapy, and special braces for the hands and legs. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of muscular dystrophy. ...more »

Muscular Dystrophy: Muscular dystrophy (MD) refers to a group of genetic diseases characterized by progressive weakness and degeneration of the skeletal or ... more about Muscular Dystrophy.

Muscular Dystrophy: Any of various muscle wasting diseases. More detailed information about the symptoms, causes, and treatments of Muscular Dystrophy is available below.

Muscular Dystrophy: Symptoms

The symptoms of muscular dystrophy are the result of a deterioration of the body's muscles. This deterioration is due to the death of the muscle cells and muscle tissues and leads to ongoing muscle wasting and muscle weakness. Muscular dystrophy progresses and gets worse over time eventually. This results in difficulty walking, disability, the need for leg and hand braces, and ...more symptoms »

Muscular Dystrophy: Treatments

Treatment of muscular dystrophy consists of a well integrated plan that is customized to the individual's specific case. There currently is no cure for muscular dystrophy and treatment plans are geared toward managing symptoms complications so children and adults with muscular dystrophy can live as long, full and active lives as possible.

People with muscular dystrophy are ...more treatments »

Muscular Dystrophy: Misdiagnosis

A diagnosis of muscular dystrophy may be missed, overlooked or delayed because there are over 100 muscular diseases that are very similar to muscular dystrophy. These include myopathies and multiple sclerosis. Severity and onset of symptoms of muscular dystrophy can also vary greatly between individuals. In addition, the symptom of muscle wasting of muscular dystrophy may be masked ...more misdiagnosis »

Symptoms of Muscular Dystrophy

Treatments for Muscular Dystrophy

Wrongly Diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy?

Muscular Dystrophy: Related Patient Stories

Muscular Dystrophy: Deaths

Read more about Deaths and Muscular Dystrophy.

Types of Muscular Dystrophy

Curable Types of Muscular Dystrophy

Possibly curable types of Muscular Dystrophy include:

Rare Types of Muscular Dystrophy:

Rare types of Muscular Dystrophy include:

Diagnostic Tests for Muscular Dystrophy

Muscular Dystrophy: Complications

Review possible medical complications related to Muscular Dystrophy:

Causes of Muscular Dystrophy

Read more about causes of Muscular Dystrophy.

Disease Topics Related To Muscular Dystrophy

Research the causes of these diseases that are similar to, or related to, Muscular Dystrophy:

Muscular Dystrophy: Research Doctors & Specialists

Research related physicians and medical specialists:

Other doctor, physician and specialist research services:

Latest Treatments for Muscular Dystrophy

Evidence Based Medicine Research for Muscular Dystrophy

Medical research articles related to Muscular Dystrophy include:

Click here to find more evidence-based articles on the TRIP Database

Muscular Dystrophy: Animations

Prognosis for Muscular Dystrophy

Prognosis for Muscular Dystrophy: The prognosis of MD varies according to the type of MD and the progression of the disorder. Some cases may be mild and very slowly progressive, with normal lifespan, while other cases may have more marked progression of muscle weakness, functional disability and loss of ambulation. Life expectancy may depend on the degree of progression and late respiratory deficit. In Duchenne MD, death usually occurs in the late teens to early 20s. (Source: excerpt from NINDS Muscular Dystrophy (MD) Information Page: NINDS)

Research about Muscular Dystrophy

Visit our research pages for current research about Muscular Dystrophy treatments.

Clinical Trials for Muscular Dystrophy

The US based website lists information on both federally and privately supported clinical trials using human volunteers.

Some of the clinical trials listed on for Muscular Dystrophy include:

Statistics for Muscular Dystrophy

Muscular Dystrophy: Broader Related Topics

Muscular Dystrophy Message Boards

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User Interactive Forums

Read about other experiences, ask a question about Muscular Dystrophy, or answer someone else's question, on our message boards:

Article Excerpts about Muscular Dystrophy

Muscular dystrophy (MD) refers to a group of genetic diseases characterized by progressive weakness and degeneration of the skeletal or voluntary muscles which control movement. The muscles of the heart and some other involuntary muscles are also affected in some forms of MD, and a few forms involve other organs as well. (Source: excerpt from NINDS Muscular Dystrophy (MD) Information Page: NINDS)

Definitions of Muscular Dystrophy:

An autosomal dominant degenerative muscle disease characterized by slowly progressive weakness of the muscles of the face, upper-arm, and shoulder girdle. The onset of symptoms usually occurs in the first or second decade of life. Affected individuals usually present with impairment of upper extremity elevation. This tends to be followed by facial weakness, primarily involving the orbicularis oris and orbicularis oculi muscles. (Neuromuscul Disord 1997;7(1):55-62; Adams et al., Principles of Neurology, 6th ed, p1420) - (Source - Diseases Database)

Any of several hereditary diseases of the muscular system characterized by weakness and wasting of skeletal muscles - (Source - WordNet 2.1)

Muscular Dystrophy is listed as a "rare disease" by the Office of Rare Diseases (ORD) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This means that Muscular Dystrophy, or a subtype of Muscular Dystrophy, affects less than 200,000 people in the US population.
Source - National Institutes of Health (NIH)


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