Muscular dystrophy

Legs | Rheumatology | Muscular dystrophy (Disease)


Muscular dystrophy (MD) refers to a group of more than 30 inherited diseases that cause muscle weakness and muscle loss. Some forms of MD appear in infancy or childhood, while others may not appear until middle age or later. The different muscular dystrophies vary in who they affect and the symptoms. All forms of MD grow worse as the persons muscles get weaker. Most people with MD eventually lose the ability to walk.

Causes and Risk factors

Hundreds of genes are involved in making proteins that protect muscle fibers from damage. Muscular dystrophy occurs when one of these genes is defective. Each form of muscular dystrophy is caused by a genetic mutation thats particular to that type of the disease. Many of these mutations are inherited, but some occur spontaneously in the mothers egg or the developing embryo.

Diagnosis and Treatment

There is no cure for muscular dystrophy. Treatments include physical and speech therapy, orthopedic devices, surgery and medications. Some people with muscular dystrophy have mild cases that worsen slowly. Other cases are disabling and severe.