Muscular dystrophy

Muscular dystrophy

Muscular dystrophy (MD) is a group of genetic, inherited conditions that cause a progressive deterioration of the muscles.

This leads to an increase in weakness and disability.

The most common form of muscular dystrophy is called duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), affecting one in every 3,000 newborn males. The symptoms that surface in early childhood include frequent falls, difficulty running or jumping, waddling, difficulty rising from a lying or sitting position, large calf muscles, muscle pain and stiffness and learning disabilities.

Other forms of the condition include becker-type MD, myotonic dystrophy, limb-girdle MD, facioscapulohumeral MD, Emery-Dreifuss, oculopharyngeal, distal and congenital MD.

These forms typically present symptoms in adulthood, such as muscle weakness and difficulty breathing and swallowing.

Treatments are available to improve the condition and quality of life of people with muscular dystrophy, such as occupational and physical therapy, regular stretching, medication, surgery, breathing aids and age-appropriate dietary therapy to avoid obesity.

The majority of people with muscular dystrophy live with the chronic and progressive condition as there is currently no cure for muscular dystrophy and no means to slow its progression. Early death may occur if respiratory or cardiac muscles are severely affected.   

If you have concerns about you or your child presenting MD-related symptoms, speak with your GP or paediatrician.