Muscular dystrophy is a disease that is characterized by a group of symptoms associated with progressive loss of muscle mass and weakness. It usually involves the musculoskeletal system and affects the mobility of the body.
It is a genetic disorder which affects the proteins that help in maintaining healthy muscles.
History of the Disease
The first case of the disease reported were thirteen boys who had similar symptoms of progressive muscle loss and an inability to walk. These boys eventually died very early.
Later, Guillaume Duchenne in 1860, explained that the cause of disease in these conditions was in fact a protein Duchenne (named after him) and now the condition is popularly known as Duchene Muscular dystrophy.
Research on Dystrophin Protein
In 1986, the gene that caused Duchenne muscular dystrophy in children was discovered. The next year, protein responsible for the disease was named dystrophin and it was inferred that due to inheritance problems, the gene responsible for making this protein is defective.
Researches are still on to identify more and more causes of the different types of muscular dystrophy affecting human beings.
There are many varieties of this condition. Some have a childhood onset while many others surface only in adulthood.
The symptoms of the disease vary in different patients, while some people are unable to walk, there are others who have a difficulty in maintaining normal breathing.
Major types of Muscular Dystrophy
There are many types of muscular dystrophy which vary according to the severity and total life expectancy. A few common types of muscular dystrophy are mentioned below on the basis of these two differentiating factors.
- Myotonic - This type of muscular dystrophy can occur at any age. The life expectancy is hampered as well.
- Duchenne - It usually affects males and is the most common and severe form of the disease. The life expectancy is not more than 20 -30 years.
- Becker - It is similar to Duchene muscular dystrophy but it develops later in the children. It is a milder form of the disease which does not affect life expectancy very much.
- Limb-girdle - It involves a group of conditions that develop later in adulthood and is a rapidly progressive form of the disease.
- Facioscapulohumeral - It may develop at any point of time in life and is not life threatening.
- Oculopharyngeal - It is also a milder form and has an onset in the late middle ages (50 -60 years).
- Emery-Dreifuss - This one develops in childhood or adulthood and patients generally live up to the late middle ages.
Muscle Involvement in Muscular Dystrophy
In the initial stages of the condition, skeletal muscles are usually involved, whereas, in the later stages of the condition, involuntary muscles such as those of the heart and lungs may also get involved.
Muscular dystrophy, an X-linked genetic disease
The flawed gene that is responsible for the development of muscular dystrophy is located on the X chromosome.
In males with an XY composition, the defective gene will always show up as a full blown disease, whereas, in case of women, the XX chromosomal combination will only show severe symptoms when both the X chromosomes have a defective gene.
Females with only one defective X chromosome will become carriers and will not get the disease themselves.
They can however, transfer the chromosome to their next generation.
How to Diagnose a case of Muscular Dystrophy?
1. Clinical Diagnosis -
To diagnose muscular dystrophy clinically, a detailed history of the onset of the disease with the progressive development of symptoms is very essential.
A thorough account of the family history of the patient for any kind of genetic disease is also necessary.
Thorough physical examination of the patient is also essential to check for the muscle group involvement that determines the type of muscular dystrophy.
2. Investigations -
DNA analysis, muscle biopsy, electrocardiography, electromyography, blood tests etc. are a few techniques used for efficient diagnosis of the condition.
When to Seek a Doctor?
It is best to visit the doctor if the person is facing severe difficulty in walking, getting up, climbing stairs etc.
For couples who have a family history of the condition, prior discussion with the doctor is necessary before planning a baby.
Tips to Naturally Manage Healthy Muscles
At present, there is no sure shot treatment of the disease.
But with an integrative approach towards maintaining a proper diet, avoiding allergic food products and maintaining the right nutrition, patients of muscular dystrophy can lead a comfortable life.
There are many natural supplements that can help to support healthy muscle mass and strength.
It is always better to get a thorough knowledge of the contents and authenticity of the supplement before blindly following any treatment.
Here are a few dietary supplements from Planet Ayurveda that can help to support healthy muscles
To buy these dietary supplements, please visit store.planetayurveda.com/products.html