Everyone is susceptible to Muscular Dystrophy, especially if it runs in your family. This disease involves the diminishing and weakening of muscles. It is also a progressive condition, meaning, it can get worse and worse if left untreated. Hence, health professionals highly recommend that you see doctors and specialists that cater especially to this condition.
Unfortunately, not many people are knowledgeable or have proper awareness as to where to go when symptoms of muscular dystrophy persist. Some would just take refuge with any doctor available, which should not be the case. This is because muscular dystrophy needs a specific type of treatment that only muscular dystrophy specialists are qualified to diagnose and prescribe medications. Moreover, this disease can actually affect different body parts and systems; thus, it is more likely that you need to visit a couple of specialists. So, “what doctors will I need to see for Muscular Dystrophy?” is a question that we will answer in the succeeding sections below.
What Doctors Will I Need to See for Muscular Dystrophy?
To lift off the burden of not knowing who to call for aid when muscular dystrophy is concerned, we have made a list of doctors and specialists that you need to see when suspected with muscular dystrophy.
Specialists for Muscular Dystrophy Diagnosis
Family Doctor: The very first doctor that you need to see is, of course, your family doctor. A family doctor knows the health history of your family including your own health history. Therefore, it is only reasonable to start your consultation with him or her. Write down all the discomforts that you experience as some of them might be indications of muscle weakening. Your family doctor will do the basic checkup, and if he or she suspects that you have some symptoms related to muscular dystrophy, then it is likely that he or she will suggest for you to have a blood test first to confirm the suspicion. The CPK (creatine phosphokinase) is a blood test which should be performed as part of the first phase of the diagnosis. If your CPK blood test is positive, then your doctor will offer two types of tests that you need to undergo to confirm the diagnosis. These two tests are genetic testing and muscular biopsy.
Medical Geneticist: If you decided to go with genetic testing first, a medical geneticist will handle and order the test. A medical geneticist is a trained professional who is qualified to do the genetic diagnosis. Since muscular dystrophy can be hereditary, this specialist can help you with regard to genetic consultation. The medical geneticist will get a sample of your blood, tissue, or hair to gather sample cells. These samples will then be sent to the laboratory for the medical technician to look for DNA abnormalities.
Clinical Molecular Geneticist: What doctors will I need to see for Muscular Dystrophyafter seeing a medical geneticist? Well, after the results are ready, a genetic counselor will read and interpret the test results. In most cases, a clinical molecular geneticist is a qualified geneticist who can interpret molecular diagnosis relevant to human genetic disorders and abnormalities. In a nutshell, they can serve as a genetic counselor or consultant. However, most medical geneticists are also a clinical molecular geneticist, so they can both perform and interpret the genetic test result.
Neuromuscular Specialists: The next specialist to add to your list of “what doctors will I need to see for Muscular Dystrophy?” is a neuromuscular specialist. A neuromuscular specialist is a professional who undergoes intensive training to master the tests that involve muscular disorders including muscular dystrophy. The neuromuscular specialist will get a muscle sample from you. This sample is usually taken from the bicep or deltoid muscles since they can yield more information about the muscular disease. This type of test is more invasive that genetic testing as this may involve an incision of about 2-3 inches to get the muscle sample. The incision will then be closed with stitches, which can be very sore for a few days. Both the genetic testing and muscular biopsy can diagnose the two types of muscular dystrophy- Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) and Becker Muscular Dystrophy (BMD). However, it would be best to have the genetic test first if you are not keen on having an incision mark on your body. Most often than not, if a mutation is found during the genetic testing, the patient will not have to undergo muscular biopsy.
Electrodiagnostic Medicine Specialist: The electrodiagnostic medicine specialist is the qualified doctor who can perform the electromyography (EMG) test. This test is usually offered to patients with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. The Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) is a common muscular dystrophy that most people suffer from. When the DMD patient undergoes the EMG test, it means that the electrical activity of the muscles is being tested. If the patient is healthy, the muscle must give off a normal size, shape, and sound of the electrical signals. The patient with muscular dystrophy will make a different kind of electrical signal. The Electrodiagnostic Medicine Specialist can also test whether you have nerve damage, which may happen to people with weakening and wasting muscles. In most cases, an electrodiagnostic medicine specialist would assist the neuromuscular specialist. However, if you can find a neuromuscular specialist who also completed additional training in electrodiagnostic (EDX) medicine, the much better.
Specialist for Muscular Dystrophy Therapy
Doctor of Osteopathy or an Osteopath: If you are asking yourself what doctors you should see after being diagnosed with the disease, then the answer to that is an osteopath. Osteopathic medical specialists can help patients with muscular dystrophy manage the function and structure of their body through manipulations which can help the muscles heal themselves, or at least, get better. An osteopath can also serve as a counselor for people with muscular dystrophy, particularly children. An osteopath is, more or less, the best specialist to tap to help the patient cope with the condition both physically and mentally. This is because they are very hands-on to the treatment of the disease and encourage physical therapy first before resorting to surgery and medication.
Specialist for Muscular Dystrophy Surgery
Cardiothoracic Surgeon Doctors: When the muscular dystrophy is already serious and affects the heart, then a heart transplant surgery might take place. During the heart transplant, a left ventricular assist device or LVAD, a mechanical device, will be implanted inside the patient’s chest to regulate the pumping of blood in the body. This mechanical device will help pump the blood out of the heart to the aorta.
Orthopedic Surgeons: However, when the disease has already affected the spine and causes spinal muscular atrophy, a genetic disorder that affects the control of the muscles, then an orthopedic surgeon must be called. The orthopedic surgeon usually specializes with spine problems and the extremities, but also deals with people who suffer from trauma and arthritis -- some of the related complications dealt by individuals with muscular disorders.
These are just some and most common doctors and specialists that muscular dystrophy patients might need to add on to their lists to manage and ease the discomfort caused by the disease. After the diagnosis, the specialist (who confirmed the disease) will advise whether you take medications, therapy, or surgery. It all depends on the current status of the disease. Therefore, it is always best to consult your family doctor immediately if you suspect you have the symptoms of muscular dystrophy.