Understanding the different types of muscular dystrophy

Muscular dystrophy (MD) is a term that encompasses a variety of genetic conditions characterised by progressive muscle weakness and degeneration.

While the core symptoms may appear similar, it is crucial to understand that not all types of MD are the same; although they all involve muscle weakness and degeneration, the varying types differ in terms of affected muscle groups, age of onset, rate of progression, and associated symptoms.

Understanding these different types can not only help in early diagnosis but allow you to help care for somebody with MD to the best of your ability.

Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD)

DMD is one of the most common and severe forms, primarily affecting boys.

Symptoms usually begin between the ages of three and five and may include difficulty walking, climbing stairs, or standing up.

Over time, the condition progresses, affecting the heart and respiratory muscles.

Unfortunately, many individuals with DMD may require a wheelchair by their teenage years.

Becker muscular dystrophy (BMD)

BMD shares similarities with DMD but is generally milder and progresses more slowly.

It also predominantly affects males, with symptoms often appearing in adolescence or early adulthood.

While mobility may be less affected than in DMD, cardiac issues are a significant concern and require monitoring.

Myotonic dystrophy

Myotonic dystrophy is unique in that it not only affects muscle strength but also leads to myotonia, an inability to relax muscles after contraction.

It can affect both men and women, and has two main types: Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 is usually more severe, affecting various systems including the eyes, heart, and endocrine system.

Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD)

FSHD primarily affects the muscles of the face, shoulders, and upper arms.

Individuals with this condition often have difficulty lifting objects, whistling, or closing their eyes tightly.

It can manifest in adolescence but sometimes does not become evident until adulthood.

Limb-girdle muscular dystrophy (LGMD)

LGMD affects the muscles around the hips and shoulders (the ‘limb-girdle’ area). It comprises several subtypes, making diagnosis and treatment complex.

Symptoms typically begin in late childhood or early adulthood and progress at varying rates.

Congenital muscular dystrophy (CMD)

CMD is a term for a group of muscular dystrophies that manifest from birth or within the first few months of life.

Infants with CMD may have poor muscle tone, difficulty moving, and delays in reaching developmental milestones like sitting or crawling.

Some forms may also affect the brain and eyes.

Oculopharyngeal muscular dystrophy (OPMD)

OPMD is a rarer form affecting adults, usually manifesting around the age of 40 or later.

Initial symptoms often include difficulty swallowing (dysphagia) and drooping eyelids.

As the condition progresses, weakness in the limb muscles may also develop.

Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy (EDMD)

EDMD affects both skeletal and cardiac muscles.

Symptoms include joint contractures (stiff joints), muscle weakness, and cardiac issues.

It usually manifests in childhood or adolescence and progresses slowly.

Here at Synergy Complex Care, we are experienced in providing tailored care to people with MD. If you or someone you know with MD would like support, please get in contact with us today.

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