Muscular Dystrophy is an umbrella term for a group of inherited disorders which affect the muscles, causing slow degeneration.
What to look for
There are five types of muscular dystrophy, classed according to the age of onset.
Duchenne muscular dystrophy: occurs in about 3000 male infants. Affected boys are normal at birth and early motor milestones such as sitting is reached. However, walking is delayed and half fail to walk by 18 months. About 10 percent have a delay in speaking.
Limb girdle muscular dystrophy: begins in late childhood or early adulthood, affecting the muscles in the hips and shoulders. The sufferer normally becomes severely disabled within about 20 years.
Facio-scapulo-humeral muscular dystrophy: affects the muscles in the face, upper back and upper arm. It's progression is much slower and does not necessarily cause disability.
Becker's muscular dystrophy: is much the same as Duchenne, which begins later in childhood and is of a much slower progression. Sufferers often survive to 50 years of age or more.
Dystrophia myotonica: affects the muscles of the hands and feet, and it can develop in childhood. It is associated with cataracts in middle-age, as well as mental disability.
A great amount of research has been carried out into the causes of muscular dystrophy, which is hereditary.
Duchenne muscular dystrophy: is caused by a gene on an X chromosome transmitted by the unaffected mother.
Limb girdle muscular dystrophy: affects both sexes, and is recessively inherited.
Facio-scapulo-humeral muscular dystrophy: is inherited in an autosomal dominant pattern.
Myotonic muscular dystrophy: is also inherited in an autosomal dominant pattern.
Becker's muscular dystrophy: is caused by a gene defect.
When to seek further professional advice
If you think you might have muscular dystrophy you should consult your doctor.
Massage cannot cure this disorder, but will provide a feeling of physical and mental well being.
Aromatherapy: Aromatherapists may use stimulating oils such as rosemary or juniper which are quite useful when used in a full body massage.
Naturopathy: Treatment will aim to promote and improve the circulation in the affected limbs by combing movement with water jet massage.
Other therapies include: Ayurvedic Medicine, Acupressure, Shiatsu, Spiritual Healing, Radionics, Polarity therapy, and Western Herbalism.
Diagnosis of the condition will involve examining the patient's limbs and observing movement. This may be confirmed by carrying out an EMG to measure muscle response. Blood tests will confirm if there are levels of a particular enzyme released by the damaged muscles. There is no cure for this inherited disease but once diagnosis is confirmed, treatment is limited to maintaining muscular movement. Muscles should be exercised regularly to prevent atrophy and a physiotherapist will provide a series of exercises to be carried out. Surgery to the heel tendons may be necessary to aid walking. Avoiding weight gain will be helpful, as it will reduce the strain put on parts of the body weakened by the condition.
The information contained in this Site/Service is not intended nor is it implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice or taken for medical diagnosis or treatment.