What is muscular dystrophy?
Muscular dystrophy (MD) refers to a group of genetic diseases that cause progressive weakness and degeneration of skeletal muscles. These disorders (of which there are more than 30) vary in age of onset, severity, and the pattern of the affected muscles. All forms of MD grow worse over time as muscles progressively degenerate and weaken. Many people with MD eventually lose the ability to walk.
Some types of MD also affect the heart, lungs, gastrointestinal system, endocrine glands, spine, eyes, brain, or other organs. Some people with MD may develop a swallowing disorder. MD is not contagious and cannot be caused by injury or activity.
How Muscular Dystrophy Affects Muscles?
Muscles are made up of thousands of fibers. Each fiber contains cells surrounded by an outer layer, or membrane. Muscle fibers that make up individual muscles are bound together by connective tissue.
Muscles are activated when an impulse, or signal, is sent from the brain through the spinal cord and peripheral nerves (nerves that connect the central nervous system to the body’s sensory organs and muscles) to the neuromuscular junction (the space between the nerve fiber and the muscle it activates). There, a chemical (acetylcholine) triggers a series of events that cause the muscle to contract.
When this protective membrane is damaged, muscle fibers begin to leak the protein creatine kinase and take on excess calcium. This damages the muscle fibers and eventually causes them to die, leading to progressive muscle degeneration. Some forms of MD are caused by defects in this dystrophin-glycoprotein complex. Others are caused by defects in the surrounding connective tissue. Still others are caused by expression of toxic gene products in muscle fibers.
Although MD can affect several body tissues and organs, its hallmark is damage to the integrity of muscle fibers. This damage can cause:
- Muscle degeneration
- Progressive weakness
- Fiber death and phagocytosis (wherein muscle fibers are broken down and destroyed by scavenger cells)
Fiber branching and splitting.
Types of muscular dystrophy
There are more than 30 types of muscular dystrophy. Some of the more common forms include:
- Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD): This is the most common form of muscular dystrophy. It mainly affects children assigned male at birth (AMAB), but children assigned female at birth (AFAB) can also have a milder version of it. As DMD progresses, it affects your heart and lungs.
- Becker muscular dystrophy (BMD): BMD is the second most common type of muscular dystrophy. It mainly affects people AMAB, but people AFAB can have milder symptoms of the condition. Symptoms of BMD can appear any time between the ages of 5 and 60, but they typically begin by your teenage years. The severity of BMD varies from person to person.
- Myotonic dystrophy: This is the most common type of muscular dystrophy that’s diagnosed in adulthood. It affects adults AFAB and adults AMAB equally. People with myotonic dystrophy have difficulty relaxing their muscles after using them. The condition can also affect your heart and lungs and cause endocrine issues such as thyroid disease and diabetes.
- Congenital muscular dystrophies (CMD): CMD refers to a group of muscular dystrophies that become apparent at or near birth (“congenital” means “present from birth”). CMD causes overall muscle weakness with possible joint stiffness or looseness. Depending on the type, CMD may also involve spinal curvature (scoliosis), breathing issues, intellectual disabilities, learning disabilities, eye issues or seizures.
- Distal muscular dystrophy: This type affects the muscles of your hands, feet, lower arms and lower legs. It tends to affect people in their 40s and 60s.
- Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy (EDMD): EDMD mainly affects children and young adults AMAB. It tends to cause muscle weakness in your shoulders, upper arms and shins. EDMD also affects your heart. The condition usually progresses slowly.
- Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD): FSHD most commonly affects muscles in your face, shoulders and upper arms. Symptoms tend to appear before age 20. About 4 out of 100,000 people in the U.S. have this form.
- Limb-girdle muscular dystrophy (LGMD): LGMD affects the muscles in your upper arms, upper legs, shoulders and hips. It affects people of all ages. Approximately 2 out of 100,000 people in the U.S. have LGMD.
- Oculopharyngeal muscular dystrophy (OPMD): OPMD weakens muscles in your eyelids and throat. Symptoms, such as droopy eyelids (ptosis) and difficulty swallowing (dysphagia), often appear in your 40s or 50s. About 1 in 100,000 people have OPMD.
How common is muscular dystrophy?
Muscular dystrophy is relatively rare. All of the different types combined affect about 16 to 25 per 100,000 people in the U.S.
The most common childhood form is Duchenne muscular dystrophy. The most common adulthood form is myotonic dystrophy.
Although there are many types of MD, DMD is the most common. This section will cover DMD’s symptoms, but the symptoms of each kind of MD can differ.
Early symptoms can include:
- A waddling gait
- Pain and stiffness in the muscles
- Difficulty running and jumping
- Walking on the toes
- Difficulty sitting up or standing
- Learning disabilities, such as developing speech later than usual
- Frequent falls
As the disease progresses, the following symptoms become more likely:
- Inability to walk
- A shortening of muscles and tendons, further limiting movement
- Breathing problems that may require assisted breathing
- Curvature of the spine if the muscles are not strong enough to support its structure
- Weakening of the heart muscles, leading to cardiac problems
- Difficulty swallowing, with a risk of aspiration pneumonia.
Diagnosing muscular dystrophy
Many different methods can be used to diagnose the various types of MD. The age at which the condition is diagnosed will vary depending on when symptoms first start to appear.
Diagnosis will involve some or all of the following stages:
- Investigating any symptoms
- Discussing any family history of MD
- Physical examination
- A muscle biopsy (where a small tissue sample is removed for testing)
- Blood testing: High levels of serum creatine kinase, serum aldolase, and myoglobin may all signal the need for further testing to confirm or rule out muscular dystrophy.
- Genetic testing: High levels of creatine kinase and signs of insufficient dystrophin may indicate a need for genetic testing. This type of testing looks for a large mutation of the dystrophin (DMD) gene. If there’s no large mutation, the next set of genetic tests will look for small mutations.
- Electromyography (EMG): EMG measures the muscle’s electrical activity using an electrode needle that enters your muscle. It can help doctors distinguish muscular dystrophy from a nerve disorder.
- Neurological physical exam: This exam rules out nervous system disorders and identifies the state of muscle strength and reflexes.
- Cardiac testing: Cardiac testing identifies heart problems that sometimes occur with muscular dystrophy. Tests include an echocardiogram to look at the structure of the heart.
- Imaging tests: MRI and ultrasound help doctors see the amount of muscle inside the body.
- Exercise assessments: Exercise assessments look at muscle strength, breathing, and how exercise affects the body.
The outlook for people with MD varies, depending on the type and severity of the disease. In mild cases, the disease may progress slowly, and the person may have a normal lifespan. In more severe cases, there is a more marked progression of muscle weakness, functional disability, and loss of ability to get around. Duchenne MD patients usually live into their 20s, and myotonic MD patients usually live longer. In most cases, individuals with MD die of:
- Respiratory problems
- Cardiac failure
Homoeopathy Treatment of Muscular Dystrophy
We have developed our specially formulated Homeopathy treatment for Muscular Dystrophy. The speciality Homeopathic treatment for Muscular Dystrophy helps to halt the process of muscular degeneration and aims to reverse the damage if muscular death has not yet progressed. But long term treatment is always required and it helps if the treatment for Muscular Dystrophy is started early in life.
Homeopathic Remedies for Muscular Dystrophy
There are number of Homeopathic remedies for muscular dystrophy. The treatment is holistic and needs to be customised for every one suffering from muscular dystrophy depending on type, age, and symptoms. Some common homeopathic medicines are ..
Numbness. Paralysis of single parts. Dull, tearing pain in hands and arms. Heaviness and weakness. Unsteadiness of muscles of forearm and hand. Numbness; loss of sensation in hands. Weak ankles. Cannot walk without suffering. Slow in learning to walk. Unsteady walking and easily falling. Restless legs at night.
PLUMBUM METALLICUM – It is the head remedy and covers symptoms from simple irritation to complete destruction of muscles. Complete loss of sensation, weakness, cutting, gripping, trembling, twisting , shooting in the neck, contraction and atrophy of the deltoid, edema, unsteady gait, shortening of muscles. Worse at night and from motion
Muscular weakness without impairing sensation and consciousness. Paralysis of respiratory muscles. Reflex action diminished. Catalepsy. Nervous debility. Trismus. Glycosuria with motor paralysis.
Tremulous, tottering gait. Knees knock against each other when walking. Cannot extend or cross legs when sitting. Myelitis, with marked spastic symptoms. Gluteal muscles and lower limbs emaciated. Legs blue; swollen, if hanging down. Stiffness and lameness of ankles and knees, toe do not leave the floor, heels do not touch floor, Muscles of calves very tense. Patient sits bent forward, straightens with difficulty.
Tearing in shoulders as if dislocated. Right shoulder painful, cannot raise it (Sang). Whole body feels tired and painful, especially legs and feet. Sense of numbness; nerve prostration.
Weakness from a short walk, with excessive heaviness. Heaviness of arms and legs on exertion, legs weak and heavy all the time.
Weakness of limbs on ascending stairs. Numbness and crawling in legs with trembling and pricking as from needles. Twitching on back of hip at 9 p.m. Hips and legs heavy all day. Knees weak.
Backs and legs give out. Uneasiness heaviness, and tearing in limbs and jerking. Limbs sensitive to pressure. Paralysis of old people. Limbs go to sleep easily.
Loss of power of muscular control. Cramp in muscles of forearm. Professional neuroses. Writer’s cramp. Excessive trembling and weakness of all limbs. Fatigue after slight exercise.
Muscular Dystrophy is an X-linked disorder most commonly seen in males in their early childhood. Genetic mutation is the main cause of the disease. The only available option for the condition is Corticosteroid, which is not as a curative medicine but to prolong the life. Prolong intake of corticosteroids has it’s own side-effects over the body. There are some studies conducted in homoeopathy for the management of MD. Individualized homoeopathic medicines are used for the treatment and it showed significant improvement in the cases. So Homoeopathic medicines are found effective in the treatment of Muscular Dystrophy
Why Cosmic Homeo Healing Centre?
At our Cosmic Homeo Healing Centre, under the able guidance of Second Generation Homeopathic Doctor, Dr Mahavrat S Patel, our team of experts have helped hundreds of case of muscular dystrophy with Homeopathic Medicines for long lasting relief.