Muscular dystrophy refers to a group of disorders that involve progressive weakness and loss of muscle mass.
Proteins are required to form healthy muscles. In muscular dystrophy, abnormal genes restrict the adequate production of protein called dystrophin. Lack of this protein can cause difficulty in walking, swallowing and muscle co-ordination.
Muscular dystrophy can occur at any age starting from childhood. The diagnosis for muscular dystrophy is dependent on the type (there are different types of muscular dystrophy) and the severity of symptoms.
However, in most cases, a person tends to lose the ability to walk and sooner or later requires a wheelchair.
Though as of now there are no known cures for muscular dystrophy, but certain treatments may be of help.
Symptoms of Muscular dystrophy
Muscular dystrophy is of more than 30 types. Depending on their symptoms, these ae divided into 9 categories for diagnose purposes. These are:
- Duchenne muscular dystrophy – Most common in children especially boys.
It includes symptoms like walking trouble, poor posture and difficulty in standing, weakening of lungs and heart, minor intellectual impairment, breathing issues.
In most of the cases, people need wheel chair before their teenage. The life expectancy for those with this disease is late teens or 20s.
- Becker Muscular Dystrophy – Symptoms of Becker muscular dystrophy are similar to Duchenne muscular dystrophy apart from the fact that this starts in mid-twenties or later and is less severe.
Other symptoms of Becker muscular dystrophy include walking on your toes, frequent falls, muscle cramps, trouble getting up from the floor
- Congenital muscular dystrophy – This kind of dystrophy is mostly present at birth or by the age of 2. Parents may notice the infants showing difficulty in sitting or standing without support, respiratory issues, foot deformities, vision and speech problems, poor motor control, intellectual deficiency.
- Myotonic dystrophy – This form of muscular dystrophy leads to myotonia, which is inability to relax your muscles after they contract. It is most common in adults in adults in their 20’s or 30’s.
This dystrophy type may also result in impotence and testicular atrophy in males. In women, it may cause irregular periods and infertility. Other symptoms may include:
- Difficulty lifting your neck due to weak neck muscles
- Loose muscles in your face, giving a thin, worn look
- Difficulty in swallowing
- Droopy eyelids
- increased sweating
- Early baldness in the front area of your scalp
- Weight loss
- Poor vision
- Facioscapulohumeral (FSHD) – This type of muscular dystrophy affects the muscles in your face, upper arms and shoulders. FSHD may lead to difficulty in chewing or swallowing, slanted shoulders, a bent appearance of the mouth, broad wing-like appearance of the shoulder blades.
FSHD progresses slowly. Symptoms usually surface during your teenage years, but they may sometimes not appear until your 40s. Most people with this condition live a full life span.
- Limb-girdle muscular dystrophy – This type of dystrophy causes muscle weakness. This usually starts in your shoulders and hips but may also occur in legs and neck. With this kind of dystrophy, you may find it difficult to get up out of a chair, walk up and down stairs, and carry heavy items.
Most people with this issue have a normal life expectancy.
- Oculopharyngeal muscular dystrophy (OPMD) – Symptoms of this kind of dystrophy include:
- Droopy eyelids
- Difficulty in swallowing
- Changes in Voice
- Heart problems
- Difficulty in walking and vision
OPMD is seen in both men and women with diagnoses in their 40s or 50s.
- Distal muscular dystrophy – Distal muscular dystrophy affects your muscles in hands, calves, feet and forearms.
Both men and women have been seen to develop Distal Muscular dystrophy with diagnoses in their 40s or 50s.
- Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy – This type of dystrophy is usually seen to be affecting boys in their childhood. It is comparatively seen lesser in girls. Symptoms include breathing issues, heart problems and muscle shortening in spine, neck, ankles, knees, and elbows. Most individuals with Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy die in mid-adulthood from heart or lung failure.
How is muscular dystrophy treated?
Presently there is no cure for muscular dystrophy but there are a number of treatments available that can help manage your symptoms and reduce the acceleration of disease.
- Assisted ventilation if respiratory muscles are affected
- Medication for heart problems
- Surgery to help correct the shortening of your muscles
- Surgery to repair cataracts
- Surgery for treatment of scoliosis
- Surgery to treat cardiac problems
- Drugs, which help strengthen muscles and slowdown muscle deterioration
Visit your doctor if you feel any muscular issues. Not necessarily it has to be dystrophy. It may be rectified with the help of some supplements. Certain therapies like exercise including stretching, walking, swimming and breathing can prove helpful in lessening the pain of the symptoms.