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Muscular dystrophy

Muscular dystrophy causes muscles to weaken, often resulting in disability.

Rather than being one condition, muscular dystrophy, or MD, is a group of inherited diseases.

Usually muscles controlling movement are affected, but it can sometimes weaken the heart and other organs.

There is no cure for muscular dystrophy, but symptoms may be managed with treatment.

Types of muscular dystrophy

There are more than 30 types of MD. Some of the common ones are:

  • Myotonic
  • Duchenne
  • Becker
  • Limb-girdle
  • Facioscapulohumeral
  • Oculopharyngeal

Muscular dystrophy can occur at different ages of a person's life, ranging from infancy to middle age or later. The type of the disease is based in part on when in a person's life muscular dystrophy appears. It also depends on the severity of the muscle weakness, which muscles are affected, the rate of symptom progression, and the way the disease arises. Some types of muscular dystrophy affect only males; others affect both males and females. Some people with MD still enjoy a normal life span with mild symptoms that progress very slowly, while others experience fast and severe muscle weakness and wasting, dying in their late teens to early 20s.

The charity Muscular Dystrophy Campaign estimates more than 70,000 babies, children and adults in the UK are affected. Duchenne muscular dystrophy is the most common form and it is estimated to affect one person in every 3500, with the second most common type, Becker muscular dystrophy affecting around every one in 8,000 people.

Through advances in medical care, children with muscular dystrophy are living longer than ever before.

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