Muscular Dystrophy

Muscular dystrophy (MD) represents a group of inherited muscle disorders that primarily cause muscle weakness and muscle wasting, though some types of the disease also present with other characteristics. MD can begin in infancy or childhood, or later in life. Diagnosis typically begins with an evaluation of symptoms but is only confirmed after significant testing. While there’s no known cure for muscular dystrophy, treatments may help slow progression and improve symptoms.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    • What causes muscular dystrophy?

      Muscular dystrophy is caused by a lack of certain proteins that are needed for muscle structure and function. Specifically, many of the types of MD are caused by a lack of a protein called dystrophin, which helps optimize muscle function.

    • Is muscular dystrophy genetic?

      Most types of muscular dystrophy are hereditary diseases. Researchers have discovered more than 30 genes responsible for causing different types of MD and genetic testing can assess your risk of passing on these genes to your children.

    • Is muscular dystrophy fatal?

      Some types of muscular dystrophy can be fatal. Certain types, including Duchenne muscular dystrophy, can lead to problems with the heart and muscles used for breathing. Some people with MD may develop other life-threatening complications as well, including aspiration pneumonia (a lung infection) due to difficulties with eating and swallowing.

    Key Terms