What is muscular dystrophy?
Muscular dystrophy is a group of inherited diseases that damage and weaken your muscles over time. This damage and weakness is due to the lack of a protein called dystrophin, which is necessary for normal muscle function. The absence of this protein can cause problems with walking, swallowing, and muscle coordination.
Muscular dystrophy can occur at any age, but most diagnoses occur in childhood. Young boys are more likely to have this disease than girls.
What are the symptoms of muscular dystrophy?
Pain in muscles
Walking on tons
Becker muscular dystrophy
Becker muscular dystrophy is similar to Duchenne muscular dystrophy, but it’s less severe. This type of muscular dystrophy also more commonly affects boys. Muscle weakness occurs mostly in your arms and legs, with symptoms appearing between age 11 and 25.
Other symptoms of Becker muscular dystrophy include:
- walking on your toes
- frequent falls
- muscle cramps
- trouble getting up from the floor
Many with this disease don’t need a wheelchair until they’re in their mid-30s or older, and a small percentage of people with this disease never require one. Most people with Becker muscular dystrophy live until middle age or later.
Congenital muscular dystrophy
Congenital muscular dystrophies are often apparent between birth and age 2. This is when parents begin to notice that their child’s motor functions and muscle control aren’t developing as they should. Symptoms vary and may include:
- muscle weakness
- poor motor control
- inability to sit or stand without support
- foot deformities
- trouble swallowing
- respiratory problems
- vision problems
- speech problems
- intellectual impairment
While symptoms vary from mild to severe, the majority of people with congenital muscular dystrophy are unable to sit or stand without help. The lifespan of someone with this type also varies, depending on the symptoms. Some people with congenital muscular dystrophy die in infancy while others live until adulthood.
Myotonic dystrophy is also called Steinert’s disease or dystrophia myotonica. This form of muscular dystrophy causes myotonia, which is an inability to relax your muscles after they contract. Myotonia is exclusive to this type of muscular dystrophy.
Myotonic dystrophy can affect your:
- facial muscles
- central nervous system
- adrenal glands
- gastrointestinal tract.