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Home >> Specialities >> Neurosciences >> Muscular Dystrophy

Muscular Dystrophy

Muscular Dystrophy (MD) is a group of genetic disorders characterized by progressive muscle weakness and degeneration. It primarily affects the skeletal muscles responsible for movement, and in some forms, cardiac and respiratory muscles may also be affected. Muscular Dystrophy is caused by mutations in genes responsible for producing proteins essential for muscle function.

Types of Muscular Dystrophy:

  • Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD): DMD is the most common and severe form of muscular dystrophy. It primarily affects boys and is caused by a mutation in the dystrophin gene. Symptoms usually manifest in early childhood and affected individuals typically require a wheelchair by their teenage years.
  • Becker Muscular Dystrophy (BMD): BMD is similar to DMD but has a later onset and progresses more slowly. It is also caused by mutations in the dystrophin gene, but the protein is produced in smaller amounts.
  • Myotonic Dystrophy: This form of MD is characterized by prolonged muscle contractions (myotonia) and affects both children and adults. It has two subtypes: Type 1 (DM1) and Type 2 (DM2), each caused by mutations in different genes.
  • Limb-Girdle Muscular Dystrophy (LGMD): LGMD affects the muscles of the hip and shoulder girdles. It is a heterogeneous group of disorders, with multiple subtypes, each caused by mutations in different genes.
  • Facioscapulohumeral Muscular Dystrophy (FSHD): FSHD primarily affects the face, shoulders, and upper arms. It is caused by a genetic mutation on chromosome 4.
  • Congenital Muscular Dystrophy (CMD): CMD is present from birth and is characterized by muscle weakness, poor muscle tone, and delayed motor development. It is a group of disorders caused by various genetic mutations.


Symptoms of Muscular Dystrophy:

The symptoms of Muscular Dystrophy can vary widely depending on the specific type and its progression. Common signs include:

  • Progressive Muscle Weakness: Starting with difficulty in walking, climbing stairs, or lifting objects, muscle weakness gradually worsens over time.
  • Muscle Atrophy: As muscles degenerate, they may appear smaller and weaker.
  • Contractures: Joints may become stiff and less flexible due to muscle shortening.
  • Respiratory Problems: In some forms of MD, respiratory muscles can weaken, leading to breathing difficulties.
  • Cardiac Issues: Certain types of MD may also affect the heart muscles, leading to cardiomyopathy.
  • Swallowing and Speech Difficulties: In advanced stages, muscles involved in swallowing and speech may be affected.
  • Cognitive Impairments: In specific types, such as myotonic dystrophy, cognitive functions may be affected.



Diagnosing MD involves a combination of clinical evaluation, genetic testing, muscle biopsies, and electromyography (EMG) to assess electrical activity in muscles. Genetic testing is particularly crucial for identifying specific gene mutations associated with different forms of MD.

Treatment and Management:

While there is currently no cure for Muscular Dystrophy, management strategies focus on improving quality of life, maintaining mobility, and managing symptoms. These may include:

  • Physical Therapy: Tailored exercises and stretches can help maintain muscle strength and flexibility.
  • Occupational Therapy: This focuses on adapting daily activities to suit individual capabilities.
  • Assistive Devices: Mobility aids like wheelchairs, braces, and adaptive equipment can enhance independence.
  • Respiratory Support: For those with respiratory muscle weakness, devices like ventilators may be necessary.
  • Medications: Some drugs may help manage specific symptoms or slow disease progression in certain forms of MD.
  • Surgical Interventions: Procedures like tendon release or spinal fusion may be considered to address contractures or scoliosis.


Ongoing research in the field of Muscular Dystrophy aims to develop targeted therapies, including gene therapy and gene-editing techniques. Clinical trials are underway to test potential treatments that hold promise for modifying the course of the disease.

In conclusion, Muscular Dystrophy encompasses a group of genetic disorders that result in progressive muscle weakness and degeneration. While it presents significant challenges, advances in medical research and interventions offer hope for improved management and potentially curative treatments in the future. Through comprehensive care, support, and ongoing research efforts, the goal remains to enhance the lives of individuals affected by this complex condition.



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