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What is a Degenerative Muscle Disease?

Degenerative muscle diseases are conditions that cause progressive weakness and loss of muscle mass due to the deterioration of muscle tissue. These disorders, such as muscular dystrophy, can be inherited or develop due to environmental factors. Accompanied by vivid images, our article breaks down the complexities of these diseases. What might these images reveal to you about living with such a condition?
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

A degenerative muscle disease is a condition marked by the progressive deterioration of muscle tissue that causes weakness and impairs normal function. There are various types of degenerative muscle diseases, and each one may affect different muscle groups. Interestingly, a degenerative muscle disease may even affect a patient’s heart muscle. Usually, degenerative muscle diseases are marked by problems with walking, balance, and coordination, and many affect speech, swallowing, and even breathing. Some examples of diseases that cause muscle deterioration include myocarditis, which involves the heart; muscular dystrophy, which is inherited; and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, which eventually causes the death of the patient.

Myocarditis is a type of degenerative muscle disease marked by inflammation in the heart. It causes pain in the chest and irregular heart rhythms and may also lead to heart failure, heart attack, or even a stroke. Often, myocarditis is caused by a virus, but the disease may also develop because of bacteria, fungi, or parasites. Sometimes, it may even develop because of an allergic reaction to a medication or a disease associated with inflammation, such as lupus. Fortunately, myocarditis is treatable, but when it causes severe damage to the heart, a patient may need a heart transplant.

Individuals suffering from degenerative muscle diseases may experience problems with walking.
Individuals suffering from degenerative muscle diseases may experience problems with walking.

Muscular dystrophy is another type of degenerative muscle disease. When a person has this condition, his muscles become progressively weaker over time; eventually, the muscle fibers become so damaged and weak that fat and other tissues take their place. Muscular dystrophy usually affects a person’s voluntary muscles but can also affect involuntary muscles. There are different types of muscular dystrophy, but they are all inherited conditions. Usually, the symptoms of muscular dystrophy include weakened muscles, coordination difficulties, and the progressive loss of mobility and function.

A degenerative muscle disease will typically cause weakness in the muscles.
A degenerative muscle disease will typically cause weakness in the muscles.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is another disease in which a person’s muscles become progressively weaker. Also called Lou Gehrig’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is marked by progressive muscle weakness and loss of function that eventually ends with the death of the patient. Often, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis begins with weakness and movement difficulties in the hands and feet and eventually progresses to include various other parts of the body. In time, the patient suffers paralysis; even basic movements, such as those involved with eating and breathing, are affected. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis can be inherited but may also develop because of gene mutations, immune system problems, chemical imbalances, or problems with the way nerve cells handle proteins.

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a TheHealthBoard writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

Learn more...
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a TheHealthBoard writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

Learn more...

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Discussion Comments

ZipLine

My cousin has a muscle disorder. I don't know the exact name but I know that she was born with it.

When she was little, she could walk. She had an odd stride to her walk, but she was walking nonetheless. As she got older however, her muscles became weaker and weaker and her leg muscles could no longer carry her.

She can't walk now and has to be in a wheelchair. It's so disheartening to see her like that. I hope she can be cured one day.

ddljohn

@burcinc-- Yes, I think muscular dystrophy is most common, especially in children. The reason I say that is because it is the most researched degenerative muscle disease and there are countless support groups for those who suffer from it. Myosis is another common one, but seen more often in the elderly.

I wish more organizations researched all forms of muscle diseases and disorders because they're all debilitating. Some develop more rapidly than others, some cause more damage. But they all negatively impact quality of life.

burcinc

What's the most common degenerative muscle disease?

Is it muscular dystrophy?

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    • Individuals suffering from degenerative muscle diseases may experience problems with walking.
      By: marilyn barbone
      Individuals suffering from degenerative muscle diseases may experience problems with walking.
    • A degenerative muscle disease will typically cause weakness in the muscles.
      By: Ambrose
      A degenerative muscle disease will typically cause weakness in the muscles.
    • A child suffering from muscular dystrophy may suffer from frequent falls.
      By: ivolodina
      A child suffering from muscular dystrophy may suffer from frequent falls.
    • Degenerative muscle disease may inhibit an individual from performing basic tasks, such as teeth brushing.
      By: Photographee.eu
      Degenerative muscle disease may inhibit an individual from performing basic 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.
    • Various types of degenerative muscle disease may affect different muscle groups.
      By: storm
      Various types of degenerative muscle disease may affect different muscle groups.