At Hopkins Children’s, the divisions of Neurology and Orthopaedics treat muscular dystrophy.
What is Muscular Dystrophy?
Muscular dystrophy (MD) is a group of more than 30 inherited disorders that cause muscle fibers to break down. These can affect skeletal muscles, which are used to control the arms and legs. Or MD can affect involuntary muscles, like the heart. Some forms of MD are present at birth while others don’t present until middle age or later.
Muscular dystrophies differ based on the extent and location of muscle weakness, age of onset, rate of progression, and pattern of inheritance. All forms of MD are similar in that they get worse as the person’s muscles weaken.
The symptoms of muscular dystrophy vary based on the type of MD. In general, all forms will cause muscle weakness which can progress slowly or quickly. Some forms present in childhood while other forms are adult onset. Some forms are fatal for children, while other forms progress very slowly, allowing children to live well into adulthood.
Your doctor will want to know about any family history of muscle disease. Physicians will perform various tests to determine if a child has MD. Sometimes a simple blood test will suffice, but other tests, like a muscle biopsy, may be needed to make a definitive diagnosis.
How to Treat Muscular Dystrophy
There is no treatment available to stop or reverse MD. Children with MD will likely participate in physical and speech therapy. Orthopedic devices, surgery and medications may also be necessary.