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Muscular Dystrophy: What You Need To Know?

If your or your child’s muscles are becoming weak and less flexible over time, you better get a check-up done by a doctor for muscular dystrophy.

Muscular dystrophy is a group of diseases that affects the muscles, and only if you lack this problem in your genes will your muscles continue to be strong. The condition may show symptoms early in childhood for some people, while others do not have symptoms until they reach their teenage years or their middle age.

There are various types of muscular dystrophy, and each is distinct according to the following:

The genes that create it,

The affected muscles,

The person’s age when the first symptoms appeared,

How quick is the progression of the disease?

Here are 9 of the major forms of this disease:

* Duchenne muscular dystrophy is the most common type and mostly affects boys. The symptoms start between ages 3 and 5.

* Becker muscular dystrophy is the milder form of Duchenne, with symptoms starting between ages 11 and 25.

* Myotonic is the most common form in adults.

* Congenital muscular dystrophy occurs at birth or early infancy.

* Limb-girdle muscular dystrophy cause weakness and wasting of the muscles in the arms and legs.

* Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy affects the muscles of the face, shoulders, upper arms and lower legs.

* Distal muscular dystrophy is characterised by wasting and weakness of voluntary distal muscles, which are farther from the centre of the body, such as lower arms, hands, legs and feet.

* Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy affects the skeletal muscles and the heart.

Muscular dystrophy symptoms usually appear either during childhood or in the teen years. Generally, a child with this disease: 

– frequently loses balance and collapse

– have weak muscles

– experience muscle cramps

– have difficulty rising from the bed, climbing stairs, jumping or running

– walk with short steps and in clumsy, swaying motion; walk on their toes

– have curved spine (scoliosis)

– have eyelids hanging down limply

– have heart problems

– experience difficulty in breathing or swallowing

– have vision problems

– feel weakness in the muscles of the face

Currently, no clear muscular dystrophy treatment is yet to cure the disease. However, many treatment plans and interventions could help the patient improve their symptoms, thus making life easier for the child and the family.

Here are some doctor-recommended treatments, the application of which should be based on what type of muscular dystrophy a person is suffering from.

  1. Physiotherapy (physical therapy) uses different exercises, including stretches, to keep the muscles strong and flexible.
  2. Occupational therapy teaches the patient to make the most use of what their muscles can do. Also, they will learn to use wheelchairs, braces and other devices to aid them in their daily functions.
  3. Speech therapy trains the person with speech and language problems due to a weak throat and facial muscles to speak more clearly.
  4. Respiratory therapyhelps restore or improve lung functions; helps with difficulty breathing.
  5. Medications to help ease symptoms, such as: 

* injection medication to help increase dystrophine production

* anti-seizure drugs to help lessen muscle spasms

* medications for blood pressure to help with heart problems

* immunosuppressant drugs to slow down the damage to muscle cells

* steroids to slow down damage to muscle cells; also help the patient to breathe easily

  1. Surgery can help with various muscular dystrophy complications, like trouble swallowing or heart problems.

Although MDs of any type cannot be fully cured, any of the above lists can be successful treatments of muscular dystrophy (therapies, injections, medications, surgery). They can help lengthen the time a child or adult with the disease can remain mobile. They also help strengthen the patient’s heart and lung muscles.

It is quite difficult for parents to see their child lose their muscle strength and be unable to do things other children can. Managing muscular dystrophy is challenging, but don’t let it stop your child from enjoying life.

If you have questions or need more information about muscular dystrophy, please contact Mission Walk today. You need to fill out our online contact form and send it, and one of our team members will be happy to get back to you.

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