- Duchenne dystrophy (the most common)
- Becker (a milder form than Duchenne)
- Myotonic muscular dystrophy (can have its onset in late adulthood)
- Family member with muscular dystrophy
- Sex: male for some types (Duchenne and Becker)
- Progressive weakening of muscles—Usually, those muscles closest to the trunk become weak first. Then, muscles further away weaken as the disease advances.
- Enlargement of muscles as they weaken
- Frequent falling and difficulty getting up
- Severe muscle deterioration, usually leading to use of a wheelchair
- Distortion of the body
- Muscle contraction and stiffening (often severe)
- Difficulty breathing
|Severe Muscle Contraction of the Hand|
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- Abnormally curved spine
- Enlargement and weakening of the heart muscle
- Pneumonia and other respiratory infections
- Difficulty in letting go after a handshake
- Muscle weakness that affects the central nervous system, heart, digestive tract, glands, or eyes
- Muscle tissue biopsy —removal of a sample of muscle tissue for testing
- Blood enzyme tests—testing a blood sample to look for elevated enzyme levels
- Genetic testing-using blood samples
- Electromyogram (EMG) —measures electrical impulses coming from muscles
- Nerve conduction study (NCS) —measures electrical impulses in the nerves
Physical Therapy and Exercise
- Corticosteroids to relieve muscle weakness (chronic steroids can also cause muscle injury called “steroid myopathy”)
- Creatine supplements (shown to reduce fatigue and increase strength in some studies)
- Drugs for heart problems if muscular dystrophy affects the heart
- Have muscular dystrophy or a family history of the disease
- May be a carrier of the gene for muscular dystrophy
- Have a partner with a family history of the disease
Muscular Dystrophy Association http://www.mdausa.org/
Muscular Dystrophy Family Foundation http://www.mdff.org/
Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy http://www.parentprojectmd.org/
Canadian Institute of Health Research http://www.cihr-irsc.gc.ca/
Muscle Dystrophy Canada http://www.muscle.ca/
Aartsma-Rus A, den Dunnen JT, van Ommen GJ. New insights in gene-derived therapy: the example of Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Ann NY Acad Sci. 2010;1214:199-212.
Amato AA, Griggs RC. Overview of the muscular dystrophies. Handb Clin Neurol. 2011;101:1-9.
Berkow R. The Merck Manual of Medical Information . 17th ed. New York, NY: Pocket; 2000.
Creatine. EBSCO Natural and Alternative Treatments website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/healthLibrary/ . Updated November 2008. Accessed March 5, 2008.
Duchenne muscular dystrophy. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php . Updated January 31, 2008. Accessed February 23, 2008.
Escolar DM, Hache LP, Clemens PR, et al. Randomized, blinded trial of weekend vs daily prednisone in Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Neurology. 2011;77(5):444-452.
Gene transfer therapy for treating children and adults with limb girdle muscular dystrophy type 2D (LGMD2D). Clinical Trials.gov website. Available at: http://clinicaltrials.gov/ . Accessed September 4, 2011.
Kasper DL, Braunwald E, Fauci AS, et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine . 16th ed. New York, NY: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2005.
Moxley RT, Heatwole C. Myotonic dystrophy. Medlink website. http://www.medlink.com . Accessed March 16, 2007.
Muscular Dystrophy Association website. Available at: http://www.mdausa.org .
NINDS muscular dystrophy information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/ . Updated January 27, 2009. Accessed February 6, 2009.
- Reviewer: Lawrence Frisch, MD, MPH
- Update Date: 09/20/2011 -