Located in Owosso, Michigan, the neurology department at Memorial Healthcare offers expert care for patients with muscular dystrophy and other neurological conditions. Individuals can count on Memorial Healthcare’s medical team for diagnosis, treatment, and comprehensive health services. Neurological care is delivered through Memorial Healthcare Institute for Neuroscience in Owosso, MI.
What Is Muscular Dystrophy?
Muscular dystrophy is the name of a group of genetic diseases that affect the skeletal muscles. When an individual has muscular dystrophy, their muscles will shrink and become weaker over time, affecting their ability to complete everyday activities like getting dressed or going up and down the stairs. Muscular dystrophy is an inherited condition, so it’s passed down through a person’s genes.
There are several different types of muscular dystrophy, including:
- Becker muscular dystrophy (BMD)
- Congenital muscular dystrophies (CMD)
- Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD)
- Emery-Dreiffus muscular dystrophy (EDMD)
- Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD)
- Limb-girdle muscular dystrophy (LGMD)
- Myotonic dystrophy
- Oculopharyngeal muscular dystrophy (OPMD)
Some forms of muscular dystrophy are apparent at birth; others develop during childhood or adulthood. The symptoms of muscular dystrophy include:
- Muscle pain and weakness
- Unusual gait or difficulty with walking or running
- Stiff or loose joints
- Enlarged calf muscles
- Breathing problems
- Heart problems such as arrhythmia
Symptoms typically progress and become worse over time.
Diagnosing and Treating Muscular Dystrophy
Because there are several types of muscular dystrophy, thorough testing is key to an accurate diagnosis. In addition to a physical exam, diagnostic tests may include:
- Blood work: A blood test can check for certain enzymes that indicate muscle disease.
- Muscle biopsy: A doctor may take a small piece of muscle tissue for analysis.
- Genetic testing: Blood tests can check for the genetic mutations that cause different types of muscular dystrophy.
- Electromyography (EMG): This test uses an electrode needle to measure activity in the muscle tissue.
While there isn’t a cure for muscular dystrophy, certain treatments can help manage the symptoms of the disease. These include:
- Physical and occupational therapy: These therapies can help a patient maintain their range of motion and strengthen their muscles.
- Speech therapy: Some patients with muscular dystrophy have trouble swallowing. Speech therapy can mitigate this problem.
- Medications: Steroid medications can help slow the progression of muscular dystrophy.
- Assistive devices: Walkers and wheelchairs can help patients maintain mobility. Children with muscular dystrophy often can use splints or braces to support their muscles. Some patients also benefit from a pacemaker to treat heart problems related to muscular dystrophy.
- Respiratory care: For patients with more advanced muscular dystrophy, respirators can help regulate breathing.
- Surgery: Some muscular dystrophy patients benefit from surgery to correct scoliosis.
Patients may also be encouraged to implement lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, which can help support healthy heart and lung function.