Muscular dystrophy is a group of inherited, progressive muscle disorders. All forms cause progressive weakness and degeneration of the muscles that control movement. Some also affect the heart or other organs. Age of onset is between infancy to adulthood. The different forms include:
Duchenne dystrophy (the most common)
Becker (a milder form than Duchenne)
Myotonic muscular dystrophy (can have its onset in late adulthood)
This condition is caused by defects in genes that control muscle development and function. In some cases, the genes are passed from parent to child. In other cases, the genetic mutation occurs spontaneously.
These factors increase your chance of developing muscular dystrophy. Tell your doctor if you have any of these risk factors:
Family member with muscular dystrophy
Sex: male for some types (Duchenne and Becker)
Symptoms common to most forms of muscular dystrophy may include:
Progressive weakening of muscles—Usually, those muscles closest to the trunk become weak first. Then, muscles further away weaken as the disease advances.
Enlargement of muscles as they weaken
Frequent falling and difficulty getting up
Severe muscle deterioration, usually leading to use of a wheelchair
NINDS muscular dystrophy information page.
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at:
Updated January 27, 2009. Accessed February 6, 2009.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a