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What is Muscular Dystrophy?

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  • Written By: Garry Crystal
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 21 October 2014
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Muscular dystrophy is an inherited condition that affects the body’s muscles. There are 20 different type of this condition, and they all result in a progressive deterioration of the muscles, leading to weakness and disability. The most common type of muscular dystrophy is called Duchenne’s dystrophy. Other common types include Myotic dystrophy, Limb-girdle dystrophy and Facio-scapulo-humeral dystrophy.

The age at which dystrophy appears depends on the type of muscular dystrophy. This condition can strike any time from birth to around 40 years of age. It is a genetic condition, meaning it is inherited through abnormal genes from one's parents. Duchenne’s dystrophy only occurs in males, but it may be passed on by a mother who is a carrier of the abnormal gene. With Myotic dystrophy, there is a chance that half of a couple's children will be affected.

The main symptom of muscular dystrophy is a gradual weakening of the muscles. The muscles deteriorate to such an extent that immobility eventually occurs. This condition affects the muscles in the body and, in some cases, the facial muscles. The deterioration time scale is usually very slow, but in some cases, it is severe enough to shorten life expectancy.

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Diagnosis usually happens after muscle weakness has appeared. Blood tests are necessary to identify the abnormal gene and identify how much muscle deterioration has occurred. Ultrasound tests are also conducted, along with electrocardiogram tests. These test for damage to the heart and heart irregularities. Tests for electrical muscle activity are also common.

There are a few major complications that can occur due to muscular dystrophy. These can include severe infection in the chest that may lead to breathing difficulties. There may also be the chance of curvature of the spine due to the weakening of the muscles. The heart muscle may also become weak.

There is no cure or treatment for muscular dystrophy. Physiotherapy can help prevent any deformity in later stages of the disease. People who carry the abnormal gene should seek the advice of a doctor if they are considering having children. Tests can identify any abnormalities in the early stages of pregnancy and can show whether the gene is present in the unborn child.

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Discuss this Article

anon260076
Post 4

My mother had this disease and then strangely, I got it.

anon191257
Post 3

Just had a 20 month baby girl pass away with this. She never got to walk, crawl or anything that other babies do. So sad.

anon125178
Post 2

I'm so sorry for your loss! God bless you.

anon78796
Post 1

I lost my brother to this terrible disease -- he had the Myotic strain He was only 45 years old and he will be sadly missed. I hope we can find a cure for this horrible disease.

I did not realise that his heart would be this affected. The doctors never really told us he would die from cardiac arrest. I thought my brother would progress from still being able to walk to being confined to a wheelchair. but he had a massive heart attack as i was their with him and tried to revive him, but i couldn't.

It is the hardest thing i will ever have to do in my life.

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