Muscular dystrophy generally affects young boys. However, there are instances of muscular dystrophy in individuals in their adulthood as well. The most common form is the Duchenne muscular dystrophy. In this type, there is loss of muscles which ultimately leads to consequent loss of strength.

In this article, we will discuss the causes, symptoms and treatments of this ailment.

Important facts about Muscular Dystrophy

  • It is an array of conditions that ultimately leads to muscle loss.
  • Duchenne muscular dystrophy is the most popular type that affects individuals.
  • Muscular dystrophy occurs due to  lack of a protein called dystrophin.
  • Out of 35,000 males, one person suffers from this ailment.
  • Gene therapies are offered to deal with this disease.
  • At present there is no definite treatment to deal with this ailment.
  • Most varieties of this ailment occur in the early stages.
  • Physical and drug therapies help to slower the progress of this ailment.
  • It prompts the weakening of skeletal muscle.

 

Muscular dystrophy: causes

The major reason behind this ailment is the interference caused in the production of muscle proteins which play an important role in building and maintaining healthy muscles. Genetic mutations affect the production process that finally leads to this ailment.

Muscular dystrophy and its variants

There are some popular variants of this ailment as discussed below:

Duchenne muscular dystrophy: It is the most common type. It starts at quite an early age – generally after the 3rd birthday. By the time an individual is 12 years old they are dependent on their wheelchair and most of them expire due to respiratory issues by the time they hit their mid-twenties.

Becker muscular dystrophy: Symptoms are quite similar to the Duchenne variant – the only difference is that the progression of this disease is slow and starts at a later age.

Myotonic (Steinert’s disease): It occurs once adulthood  sets in. In this type, the individual is unable to relax a muscle once it has contracted. Face and the neck are the initial areas to get affected.

Congenital: It occurs in the womb during the initial stages of development or even before the kid turns 2. It affects both girls and boys. The progress can be both slow and swift.

Facioscapulohumeral (FSHD): it occurs mostly during the teenage years. It affects the face and the shoulders. An affected individual sleeps with his eyes half open. And when they try to raise or stretch their arms, it looks like wings.

Limb-girdle: It happens during teenage years and affects the shoulder and hip muscles. The affected individual suffers from tripping symptoms.

Oculopharyngeal muscular dystrophy: It happens in the later stage usually between 40 and 70 years. Eyelids, throat and face get affected in the initial stages, followed by shoulder and pelvis.

Symptoms of muscular dystrophy

Initial symptoms

  • Wobbling gait
  • Stiff muscles
  • Pain in the muscles
  • Difficulty while running or jumping
  • Difficulty  sitting down or standing
  • Difficulty sitting up or standing
  • Speech development is prolonged
  • Frequent falls

Later symptoms

  • Muscle shortens thereby affecting easy movement
  • Regular breathing becomes difficult
  • Spine gets curved
  • Cardiac muscles weaken leading to cardiac arrest
  • Difficulty in swallowing

Treatment for muscular dystrophy

There is no absolute treatment for this ailment. However, therapies and medications help to slower the process and keep the individual mobile for as long as possible.

Drugs

Cortico-steroids: These drugs help to slower the process and improve movement, but in the long run affect the bone structure and leads to weight gain.

Heart medications: Beta blockers and angiotensin-converting enzyme can help protect the heart.

Physical therapy

General exercises: Walking and swimming can improve the condition of the individual. But the exercises should be carried out under the guidance of an expert and the space of the exercise should increase with the passage of time. Don’t try to walk a long distance or go for 50 laps in the first session of your swimming class.

Breathing assistance: if the situation gets worse and the individual cannot breathe properly, ventilators are required to ensure smooth breathing.

Mobility aids: wheelchairs help ensure movement and ease mobility