About Muscular Dystrophy

Muscular dystrophy (MD) is a genetic disorder that weakens the muscles that help the body move. People with MD have incorrect or missing information in their genes, which prevents them from making the proteins they need for healthy muscles. Because MD is genetic, people are born with the problem it's not contagious and you can't catch it from someone who has it.

MD weakens muscles over time, so children, teens, and adults who have the disease can gradually lose the ability to do the things most people take for granted, like walking or sitting up. Someone with MD might start having muscle problems as a baby or their symptoms might start later. Some people even develop MD as adults.

 
Duchenne MD is the most common form of MD and primarily affects boys. It is caused by the absence of dystrophin, a protein involved in maintaining the integrity of muscle. Onset is between 3 and 5 years and the disorder progresses rapidly. Most boys are unable to walk by age 12, and later need a respirator to breathe. Girls in these families have a 50 percent chance of inheriting and passing the defective gene to their children. Boys with Becker MD (very similar to but less severe than Duchenne MD) have faulty or not enough dystrophin.


Facioscapulohumeral MD usually begins in the teenage years. It causes progressive weakness in muscles of the face, arms, legs, and around the shoulders and chest. It progresses slowly and can vary in symptoms from mild to disabling.

Myotonic MD is the disorder's most common adult form and is typified by prolonged muscle spasms, cataracts, cardiac abnormalities, and endocrine disturbances. Individuals with myotonic MD have long, thin faces, drooping eyelids, and a swan-like neck.

 

OTHER TYPES OF MUSCULAR DYSTROPHY

The life expectancy for many of these forms of muscular dystrophy depends on the degree to which a person's muscles are weakened as well as how much the heart and lungs are affected.

  • Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy (EDMD) typically starts causing symptoms in late childhood to early teens and sometimes as late as age 25. EDMD is another form of muscular dystrophy that affects mostly boys. It involves muscles in the shoulders, upper arms, and shins, and it often causes joint problems (joints can become tighter in people with EDMD). The heart muscle may also be affected.
  • Limb-girdle muscular dystrophy (LGMD) affects boys and girls equally, weakening muscles in the shoulders and upper arms and around the hips and thighs. LGMD can begin as early as childhood or as late as mid-adulthood, and it often progresses slowly. Over time, a wheelchair might be necessary to get around. There are many different types of LGMD, each with its own specific features.
  • Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD) can affect both guys and girls, and it usually begins during the teens or early adulthood. FSHD affects muscles in the face and shoulders and sometimes causes weakness in the lower legs. People with this type of MD might have trouble raising their arms, whistling, or tightly closing their eyes. How much a person with this form of muscular dystrophy is affected by the condition varies from person to person. It can be quite mild in some people.
  • Myotonic dystrophy (MMD) is a form of muscular dystrophy in which the muscles have difficulty relaxing. In teens, it can cause a number of problems, including muscle weakness and wasting (where the muscles shrink over time), cataracts, and heart problems.
  • Congenital muscular dystrophy (CMD) is the term for all types of MD that show signs in babies and young children, although the MD isn't always diagnosed right away. Like other forms of MD, CMD involves muscle weakness and poor muscle tone. Occurring in both girls and boys, it can have different symptoms. It varies in how severely it affects people and how quickly or slowly it worsens. In rare cases, CMD can cause learning disabilities or mental retardation.
 
 

 

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