What is Muscular Dystrophy?
Muscular dystrophies are a group of muscle diseases caused by mutations in a person’s genes. Over time, muscle weakness decreases mobility, making everyday tasks difficult. There are many kinds of muscular dystrophy, each affecting specific muscle groups, with signs and symptoms appearing at different ages, and varying in severity. Muscular dystrophy can run in families, or a person can be the first in their family to have a muscular dystrophy. There may be several different genetic types within each kind of muscular dystrophy, and people with the same kind of muscular dystrophy may experience different symptoms.
Muscular dystrophies are rare, with little data on how many people are affected. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is working to estimate the number of people with each major kind of muscular dystrophy in the United States.
Kinds of Muscular Dystrophy
- Duchenne/Becker (DMD/BMD)
- Myotonic (DM)
- Limb-Girdle (LGMD)
- Facioscapulohumeral (FSHD)
- Congenital (CMD)
- Distal (DD)
- Oculopharyngeal (OPMD)
- Emery-Dreifuss (EDMD)
MG is a chronic autoimmune neuromuscular disorder characterized by weakness of the voluntary muscle groups, which are the muscles we use to perform physical activities. For reasons that are not clearly understood, the immune system of patients with MG makes antibodies against the receptor sites of the neuromuscular junction.
MMN (Multifocal Motor Neuropathy) is a rare disorder in which focal areas of multiple motor nerves are attacked by one’s own immune system. Typically, MMN is slowly progressive, resulting in asymmetrical weakness of a patient’s limbs.
Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy (CIDP) is a neurological disorder characterized by gradually (over months or years) increasing weakness of the legs and arms. It is caused by damage to the protective covering of the nerves, called myelin. Symptoms are variable and may be mild to debilitating.
Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) is a rare neurological disorder in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks part of its peripheral nervous system—the network of nerves located outside of the brain and spinal cord.
Myositis means inflammation of the muscles that you use to move your body. An injury, infection, or autoimmune disease can cause it. Two specific kinds are polymyositis and dermatomyositis. Polymyositis causes muscle weakness, usually in the muscles closest to the trunk of your body. Dermatomyositis causes muscle weakness, plus a skin rash.
Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome (LEMS) is a rare autoimmune disorder of the neuromuscular junction. It is a miscommunication between the nerve cell and the muscles that lead to the gradual onset of muscle weakness.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a group of rare neurological diseases that mainly involve the nerve cells (neurons) responsible for controlling voluntary muscle movement (e.g. chewing, walking, and talking). The disease is progressive, and symptoms get worse over time. Currently, there is no cure for ALS and no effective treatment to halt, or reverse, the progression of the disease.
Muscular dystrophies are a group of muscle diseases caused by mutations in a person’s genes. Over time, muscle weakness decreases mobility, making everyday tasks difficult. There are many kinds of muscular dystrophy, each affecting specific muscle groups, with signs and symptoms appearing at different ages, and varying in severity.