Muscular dystrophy is a very common condition that can happen to people of different ages. The thing about muscular dystrophy is that there is no definite cure for it. However, there are ways to manage the condition. There are a lot of medications and therapies that can be used in order to keep it under control. If you know or think that you have muscular dystrophy, then it pays to know some of the best treatment methods for muscular dystrophy.
What is muscular dystrophy?
Before learning about the best treatment methods for muscular dystrophy, it’s very important to have a better understanding of the condition first. In a nutshell, muscular dystrophy is a group of diseases that can lead to the weakness of muscles in the body. This, in turn, may also lead to the loss of muscle mass which will make you skinnier. Muscular dystrophy is usually caused by genes as there are abnormal genes that may slow down or deter the production of proteins in the body. Because of the lack of proteins, it will be hard for you to gain any muscle mass.
Muscular dystrophy may happen to both children and adults. However, this condition is more commonly known to be displayed by males as compared to females. Usually, boys in their childhood would get this type of condition, but other people may get this condition during adulthood. The most common type of muscular dystrophy is Duchenne muscular dystrophy, which occurs in young boys. The one that usually happens in adults, though, is known as myotonic muscular dystrophy. It really depends on the genes of the individual. If not addressed early, it may lead to the inability to walk or move muscles that are needed for daily activities such as brushing the teeth and eating.
How is muscular dystrophy diagnosed?
There are four primary ways to diagnose muscular dystrophy. These are the tests that run through physical examinations and also family history. These four ways are:
- A muscle biopsy
- A nerve conduction test (electromyography)
- Blood enzyme test
- Genetic test
These four methods of testing will be able to determine whether or not you have muscular dystrophy. The results of the test will accurately give the doctor your diagnosis on this condition.
What are some of the best treatment methods for muscular dystrophy?
There are three best treatment methods for muscular dystrophythat are available. These would be either through physical therapy, surgery or some doctor prescribed medication. Let’s go through each of these best treatment methods for muscular dystrophy.
Let’s start first with some of the medicines that the doctor may prescribe:
- Corticosteroids: The first one would be corticosteroids, which are often prescribed to patients that have Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Corticosteroids are used for delaying muscle degeneration and at the same time, improving muscle strength. Prolonged use may result in some side effects like weight gain. These drugs are often used for those who have severe conditions and would really need to slow down their muscular dystrophy.
- Emflaza: Emflaza is a type of corticosteroid that can be used for aiding and improving muscle strength and also slowing down the condition. It especially helps those who already have some trouble walking due to their condition. Unlike most corticosteroids, the side effects of emflaza are not as grave. Some of the side effects include puffiness in the face, weight gain, and an increase in overall appetite. Other than that, emflaza does not really have any known grave side effects, making it one of the best treatment methods for muscular dystrophy.
- Phenytoin or Mexiletine: Another prescribed drug that can be used for managing this condition would be phenytoin or mexiletine. These two drugs are more for myotonic muscular dystrophy than Duchenne. Just to give you an idea, myotonic muscular dystrophy more commonly happens to adults. It is the condition wherein the muscles progressively waste away because they keep on contracting after use. Myotonic muscular dystrophy is among those diseases that cause the muscles to waste away, resulting in motion difficulty and can escalate to muscular atrophy. People who suffer from this condition cannot relax their muscles after doing something strenuous. Drugs like phenytoin or mexiletine would relax the muscles so that they do not get overworked. Like most drugs, there are also some side effects when this medicine is used. Some of the side effects would include problematic muscle control, heartburn, dizziness and nausea.
- Angiotensin Converting Enzyme Inhibitors: If you happen to have a heart problem, then the best medicine to be prescribed by your doctor would be angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors, also known as beta blockers. These types of medication are quite strong and are usually only given to those whose heart has been damaged by the muscular dystrophy. Though not very common, there are a few side effects that may go along with the use of this medication, such as dizziness, headaches, low blood pressure, or diarrhea. These side effects may show up after use of the medicine, but they shouldn’t be too troublesome to the point of affecting daily routines.
- Stretching Exercises: The first type of physical therapy that can be done would be range of motion and stretching exercises. This type of exercise is used for preventing the joints from drawing inward and becoming stuck. It also helps make the joints more flexible so that they won’t jam.
- Low Impact Exercises: Regular low-impact exercises are also really good for this type of condition. Low impact exercises would include walking, swimming, light aerobics, and some form of yoga. These don’t really harm the joints, but rather help strengthen them.
- Braces: Using braces is also considered one of the most effective and best treatment methods for muscular dystrophy. Braces constantly keep the muscles flexed and stretched out so that they don’t contract too much. This would help support the weakened muscles by constantly stretching them.
- Breathing Assistance: Muscular dystrophy may also affect the respiratory system by weakening the respiratory muscles. In order to aid with this, it’s important to use a sleep apnea device that can help with the intake of oxygen at night. For those who have a very severe case of muscular dystrophy, a ventilator might have to be used in order to force oxygen into the lungs.
- Rehabilitative Devices: Rehabilitative devices (also known as mobility aids) can be used. These would include canes, wheelchairs, walkers, powered mobility vehicles, and other types of devices that may help patients do their daily activities without the aid of another person.
Though surgery is for very severe cases, sometimes it is needed to help treat this condition. Surgery is needed for correcting an abnormal curve in the spine. For those whose respiratory systems are already affected by the muscular dystrophy, planting a cardiac pacemaker may be necessary because breathing can already be affected.
These are some of the best treatment methods for muscular dystrophy that can help manage and treat the condition. Take note that the best treatment to choose will all depend on how severe your case is. It is important to consult your doctor before attempting to try any of these treatment methods so that you’ll know which treatment method is best suited for the maintenance and management of your condition.