What is Muscular Dystrophy?
Muscular Dystrophyis a group of conditions, which results in accelerated fatigue and wasting, or loss of muscle. In this condition, mutations (abnormal genes) hamper the protein production required for the formation of healthy muscles.
Muscular Dystrophy Causes
Every type of muscular dystrophy is caused by a genetic mutation. These mutations are genetic.
Muscular Dystrophy Symptoms
The muscular dystrophy symptoms depend on the different types of muscular disorders. The common symptoms mostly seen in boys usually start during childhood; while other types do not show any signs or symptoms until adult age.
The most significant symptom seen in the muscular dystrophy is progressive muscle weakness. However, the symptoms usually depend on the types of muscular dystrophy. Namely:
- Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD): this type usually affects the boys. Its symptoms are typically seen in the ages group of 2 to 3 years which include:
- Trouble in getting up from a supine or sitting posture
- Difficulty in running/jumping
- Wobbled gait
- Walking on toes
- Large calf muscles
- Muscle pain
- Muscle stiffness
- Disabilities in learning
- Frequent falls
- Becker muscular dystrophy: In this type of muscular dystrophy the symptoms are similar to the Duchenne muscular dystrophy. However, these symptoms progress slowly and are mild. These symptoms usually start in teenage group; however, the symptoms would not even occur until the mid-20s or even later.
- Other types:
- Myotonic/Steinert's disease: In this type the muscle relaxation ability to relax muscles following contractions is affected. The onset of the myotonic muscular dystrophy is commonly seen at the adult age. The muscles that are commonly affected are facial and neck muscles.
- Facioscapulohumeral (FSHD): in this type the muscle weakness usually initiates in the facial and shoulder muscles. A typical sign seen in this type of muscular dystrophy is shoulder blades stick out like wings when the patient raises the arms. Its onset occurs in the teenage however in some patients it is seen in childhood or at a later age of 40 years.
- Congenital: In this type the symptoms are apparently seen at birth or before 2 years of age. In some types the symptoms slowly progress and lead to a mild disability; while in others it might show a rapid progression and cause severity of symptoms.
- Limb-girdle: As the name suggest in this type the hip and shoulder muscles usually the first to be affected. These patients have a difficulty in lifting the front of the foot and as a result might often trip. The symptoms might begin in childhood or even in the teenage.
Muscular Dystrophy Treatment
The various muscular dystrophy treatment options include the following:
- Medications: drugs like corticosteroids are recommended for improve muscle strength and delay the progression of certain types of muscular dystrophy. In case the condition affects heart muscles, then heart medications are also prescribed.
- Surgical procedures: might be required for the correction of the spinal curvature which might eventually lead to difficulty in breathing.
- Other therapies: or assistive machines could improve the quality and at an extent the length of life of the muscular dystrophy patients. Some options include:
- Exercises: done to improve the range of motion and also aid in stretching the muscles and to make them flexible. In muscular dystrophy, the muscle flexibility and joint mobility becomes restricted. The limbs also are draw inward. Some less intense aerobic exercises, like walking, swimming, etc. also helps in maintaining the muscle strength and movement. Some strengthening exercises are also helpful.
- Braces: can help the muscles and tendons to be flexible and stretched; consequently leading to reducing the advancements of contractures. Braces also helps in providing the mobility by giving the required support for the weakened muscles.
- Mobility aids: like walking canes, walkers, wheelchairs, etc. help preserve the mobility of the muscles.
- Breathing assistance: This is required when the respiratory muscles are weakened. Sometimes, the sleep apnoea machine helps in improving the oxygen supply to the lungs at night. Patients with severe muscular dystrophy might be treated with a ventilator (a machine used for artificial breathing).
- Duchenne muscular dystrophy treatment. DMD is the caused by the loss of cells required for correct/normal body functions. In this treatment, Stem cells therapy is given in which a vital muscle protein is mutated consequently the absence of which results in progressive degeneration of the body muscles.