Muscular Dystrophy (MD) is a genetic disease characterized by progressive weakness and degeneration of the skeletal muscles, which control the body’s movement. Muscular Dystrophy takes on several forms, thus Muscular Dystrophy can be properly referred to as Muscular Dystrophies. Some of the forms of Muscular Dystrophy are detectable at birth these forms of Muscular Dystrophy are referred to as Congenital Muscular Dystrophy. However, others are detectable during the adolescence years, and are called Becker Muscular Dystrophy or Becker MD. The three most prevalent types of Muscular Dystrophy are as follows:
- Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy or Duchenne MD is found principally in young males. This form of Muscular Dystrophy is the result of mutations in the gene that regulates Dystrophin. Dystrophin is a protein utilized to help maintain muscle fibers. The disease is detectable in during the early years of a childs life (toddler years) and progresses rapidly. Most boys become unable to walk during their early teenage years, and by their early twenties require the use of a respirator to breathe.
- Facioscapulohumeral MuscularDystrophy or Facioscapulohumeral MD can be both mild and disabling in the severity of its symptoms. This form of Muscular Dystrophy appears during the adolescence years causing progressive weakness in the facial muscles as well as in the arms and legs.
- Myotonic Muscular Dystrophy or Myotonic MD varies in the age of onset and is characterized by Myotonia. Myotonias are prolonged muscle spasms in the fingers and facial muscles. Individuals with Myotonic Muscular Dystrophy are identifiable by their long faces and drooping eyelids (frontal baldness in men).
None of the Muscular Dystrophies have a specific treatment available at present. Consider the following list of therapies and treatments that can be used to delay to progression of Muscular Dystrophy as well as offer relief from some symptoms:
physical therapy (preventing painful muscle contractures)
corrective orthopedic surgery
Corticosteroids (can slow muscle deterioration for Duchenne MD patients)