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Muscular Dystrophy

A group of muscle diseases that weaken the musculoskeletal system.

PubMed Health Glossary
(Source: Wikipedia)

About Muscular Dystrophy

Muscular dystrophy (MD) refers to a group of more than 30 genetic diseases that cause progressive weakness and degeneration of skeletal muscles used during voluntary movement. The word dystrophy is derived from the Greek dys, which means "difficult" or "faulty," and troph, or "nourish." These disorders vary in age of onset, severity, and pattern of affected muscles. All forms of MD grow worse as muscles progressively degenerate and weaken. Many individuals eventually lose the ability to walk.

Some types of MD also affect the heart, gastrointestinal system, endocrine glands, spine, eyes, brain, and other organs. Respiratory and cardiac diseases may occur, and some people may develop a swallowing disorder. MD is not contagious and cannot be brought on by injury or activity....Read more about Muscular Dystrophy NIH - National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

The evidence from published randomised controlled trials is inadequate to establish the effectiveness of any drug for treating facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy. More research is needed

Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy is a progressive muscle disease. Muscle weakness is often relatively mild and progression slow but around one fifth of affected people eventually become wheelchair‐bound. The muscles of the face, shoulder blades and upper arms are most severely effected, but weakness occurs in other muscles. There is no agreed treatment. Only two randomised controlled trials have been published. One small trial of albuterol (also known as salbutamol)and another small trial of creatine (a dietary supplement for building muscle) were inadequate to confirm or refute a significant effect. Further trials of albuterol, creatine and other agents are needed.

Surgical operations for winging of the shoulder blade in muscular dystrophy

Winging of the scapula (shoulder blade) in muscular dystrophy is caused by weakness of the muscles which attach the scapula to the chest and help raise the arms. Non‐surgical interventions involve casts or slings to support the shoulders. Surgical operations involve fixing the scapulae to the ribs using screws or wire. No randomised controlled trials were found. Small case series suggest that surgical operations might produce significant benefits in some people. These need to be balanced against loss of mobility, need for physiotherapy and possible complications including failure of the fixing material or reduced breathing capacity.

Surgery for curvature of the spine in patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy

Scoliosis, or curvature of the spine, is common in patients with DMD. It is usually progressive, and surgery is often performed to halt its progression, improve cosmetic appearance, facilitate care, preserve upper limb and respiratory function, and hopefully increase life expectancy. We wished to learn whether spinal surgery was better or worse than the alternatives.

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Summaries for consumers

The evidence from published randomised controlled trials is inadequate to establish the effectiveness of any drug for treating facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy. More research is needed

Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy is a progressive muscle disease. Muscle weakness is often relatively mild and progression slow but around one fifth of affected people eventually become wheelchair‐bound. The muscles of the face, shoulder blades and upper arms are most severely effected, but weakness occurs in other muscles. There is no agreed treatment. Only two randomised controlled trials have been published. One small trial of albuterol (also known as salbutamol)and another small trial of creatine (a dietary supplement for building muscle) were inadequate to confirm or refute a significant effect. Further trials of albuterol, creatine and other agents are needed.

Surgical operations for winging of the shoulder blade in muscular dystrophy

Winging of the scapula (shoulder blade) in muscular dystrophy is caused by weakness of the muscles which attach the scapula to the chest and help raise the arms. Non‐surgical interventions involve casts or slings to support the shoulders. Surgical operations involve fixing the scapulae to the ribs using screws or wire. No randomised controlled trials were found. Small case series suggest that surgical operations might produce significant benefits in some people. These need to be balanced against loss of mobility, need for physiotherapy and possible complications including failure of the fixing material or reduced breathing capacity.

Surgery for curvature of the spine in patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy

Scoliosis, or curvature of the spine, is common in patients with DMD. It is usually progressive, and surgery is often performed to halt its progression, improve cosmetic appearance, facilitate care, preserve upper limb and respiratory function, and hopefully increase life expectancy. We wished to learn whether spinal surgery was better or worse than the alternatives.

See all (11)

Terms to know

Becker Muscular Dystrophy
Disorder characterized by slowly progressing weakness in the muscles of the legs and pelvis.
Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy
The main symptom of Duchenne muscular dystrophy is muscle weakness associated with muscle wasting. DMD is inherited. Females will typically be carriers for the disease while males will be affected.
Dystrophin
A protein that helps maintain the shape and structure of muscle fibers.
Facioscapulohumeral Muscular Dystrophy
Muscle disease characterized by slowly progressive weakness of the muscles of the face, upper-arm, and shoulder.
Genetic
Genetic, used as an adjective, refers to genes.
Genetic Testing
Analyzing DNA to look for a genetic alteration that may indicate an increased risk for developing a specific disease or disorder.
Imaging Tests
A type of test that makes pictures of areas inside the body. Some examples of imaging tests are CT scans and MRIs. Also called imaging procedure.
Muscles
Muscles function to produce force and motion. They are primarily responsible for maintaining and changing posture, locomotion, as well as movement of internal organs, such as the contraction of the heart and the movement of food through the digestive system.
Myotonic Dystrophy
An inherited disease that causes general weakness, usually beginning in the muscles of the hands, feet, neck, or face. It slowly progresses to involve other muscle groups, including the heart. Affects a wide variety of other organ systems as well.
Occupational Therapy
Skilled treatment that helps individuals achieve independence in all facets of their lives. It assists in the development of skills needed for independent living.
Physical Therapy
The use of exercises and physical activity to restore movement, reduce pain, strengthen muscles, and improve balance and posture in order to restore the ability to function. Therapists provide education and suggest activity modification suited to an individual.
Surgery (Surgical Procedure)
A procedure to remove or repair a part of the body or to find out whether disease is present.

More about Muscular Dystrophy

Photo of a child

Also called: Progressive muscular dystrophy, MD, PMD

Other terms to know: See all 12
Becker Muscular Dystrophy, Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, Dystrophin

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