What is Muscular Dystrophy?


The muscular Dystrophies are a group of genetic diseases that cause weakness and muscle wasting, primarily in the skeletal or voluntary muscles (those we control such as the muscles of the arms and legs).

The four types of muscular dystrophy (MD) described in this pamphlet — congenital muscular dystrophy (CMD), distal muscular dystrophy (DD), Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy (EDMD) and oculopharyngeal muscular dystrophy (OPMD) — are among the rarer forms of muscular dystrophy. Because they're less common, they can be difficult to diagnose, and many questions remain to be answered about their symptoms and progression.

The congenital muscular dystrophies and the distal muscular dystrophies (sometimes called distal myopathies) are both groups of muscle disorders. Emery-Dreifuss and oculopharyngeal each appears to be a single form of muscular dystrophy in terms of symptoms (although EDMD and OPMD can have more than one genetic cause).

Most people with muscular dystrophy experience some degree of muscle weakness during their lifetimes, but each of the four disorders described in this pamphlet affects different muscle groups and may have different accompanying symptoms. Because muscle weakness usually progresses over time in the muscular dystrophies, lifestyle changes, assistive devices and occupational therapy may be needed to help a person adapt to new situations. 

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