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What are the Best Muscular Dystrophy Treatments?

The best muscular dystrophy treatments often combine physical therapy, medication, and surgical interventions to manage symptoms and improve quality of life. Advances in gene therapy also show promise. Each patient's plan is unique, tailored to their specific type of dystrophy. Curious about how these treatments can be personalized? Discover the potential of cutting-edge therapies in our comprehensive guide.
A. Garrett
A. Garrett

Physical therapy, steroid shots, surgery, and medical devices are all forms of muscular dystrophy treatments. All treatments only slow the progression of the disease and alleviate discomfort associated with it because no cure exists for the disease. The muscles of people afflicted with muscular dystrophy gradually deteriorate. Losing muscle mass can cause sufferers to have difficulty walking, standing, sitting in an upright position, and breathing. Doctors determine the best treatments based on how far the disease has progressed in destroying the muscles.

If the disease is in its early stages, the best muscular dystrophy treatment is physical therapy. Engaging in physical therapy helps an ailing patient maintain muscle tone necessary for mobility. As the muscles degenerate, joints in the arms, legs, and hips become rigid and can lock in painful positions. Exercises associated with physical therapy help keep such joints limber. Stretching is a great example of this.

Muscular dystrophy treatments may include physical therapy.
Muscular dystrophy treatments may include physical therapy.

Doctors may also prescribe steroids as muscular dystrophy treatments. Steroids, particularly prednisone, are common treatments because they promote the growth of muscle cells. Such medications slow muscular degeneration and afford people afflicted with muscular dystrophy the use of their muscles for a longer period of time than they would if steroids were not used. This form of treatment does have side effects however. Patients given steroids may experience weight gain and decreased bone density, consequently making them susceptible to bone fractures due to the increased strain on the joints and muscles.

Doctors may offer steroid shots as a muscular dystrophy treatment.
Doctors may offer steroid shots as a muscular dystrophy treatment.

The degeneration of the muscles in the upper body can prevent sufferers of muscular dystrophy from maintaining an upright position. As a result, their spine may curve at an angle that causes debilitating pain and difficulty breathing. Doctors may recommend spinal fusion as one of many possible muscular dystrophy treatments. This surgery alters the shape of the spine so that the recipient can sit upright and have full use of his or her diaphragm for respiration.

An illustration of the human muscular system.
An illustration of the human muscular system.

If the disease has progressed to the later stages, very few medical treatments exist to restore mobility. Although there is a paucity of muscular dystrophy treatments for patients in the terminal stages of the disease, some technological devices can provide some form of relief from the ravages of muscular dystrophy. Respiration machines facilitate breathing for patients whose respiratory muscles have diminished past the point of utility. Also, electric wheelchairs allow patients who have lost the use of their legs to still have some form of mobility.

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Discussion Comments

RobinFogoros

@Peter: I am one of four children, two brothers and a sister, and they have miotonic. My father died from it. So did my sister at age 59, and her son at 33. My brothers are 49 and 52. They are both still walking, but are not able to do a lot of things.

I have been reading a lot on growth hormone + testosterone. Who would we go to see about that? And what hormone treatment are you on? I really want to help them.

anon271256

I am a 50 year old male with Myotonic Muscular Dystrophy (MMD Type 1) where the muscles are in tension. I also have had Type 1 diabetes since the age of 20. The MDA says I am the only MD patient they have ever seen with Type 1 diabetes. Type 2 is quite common because of the insulin resistance side effect from the MMD.

I have been lifting weights since I was 12 years old while seeing my father die of the disease, and I have never stopped. I exercise approximately four hours per day. I can't run anymore but still can walk and carry my golf clubs for 18 holes (6 miles).

My Ck enzymes have been at least 1,000 for eight years now and I was wondering how long patients have been able to walk normally with Cks of at least 1,000? I have been on Human Growth Hormone for almost eight months now and have seen improvement in muscle mass and muscle strength. I measure the size of all my muscles every two weeks.

My father was wheelchair bound at the age of 50 and my sister has been in a wheelchair for seven years now and she is 51. My muscles are very tight and I have lower back pain at the end of the day after a full day of work and exercising. All comments are welcome. --Peter

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    • Muscular dystrophy treatments may include physical therapy.
      By: Lisa F. Young
      Muscular dystrophy treatments may include physical therapy.
    • Doctors may offer steroid shots as a muscular dystrophy treatment.
      By: Aptyp_koK
      Doctors may offer steroid shots as a muscular dystrophy treatment.
    • An illustration of the human muscular system.
      By: adimas
      An illustration of the human muscular system.
    • A child suffering from muscular dystrophy may suffer from frequent falls.
      By: ivolodina
      A child suffering from muscular dystrophy may suffer from frequent falls.
    • Individuals with muscular dystrophy may experience loss of muscle control necessary to perform ordinary tasks, such as teeth brushing.
      By: Photographee.eu
      Individuals with muscular dystrophy may experience loss of muscle control necessary to perform ordinary tasks, such as teeth brushing.
    • Families who have a history of muscular dystrophy should be particularly alert to the early warning signs of the condition, which may not appear until adolescence.
      By: bst2012
      Families who have a history of muscular dystrophy should be particularly alert to the early warning signs of the condition, which may not appear until adolescence.