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How is muscular Dystrophies treated by Western medicine?
04-30-2011, 11:49 PM
Post: #1
How is muscular Dystrophies treated by Western medicine?
There is no cure for muscular dystrophy, although some drugs still in the trial stage have shown promise in slowing or delaying the progression of the disease. For the time being, treatment is aimed at preventing complications due to the effects of weakness, decreased mobility, contractures (inability to relax muscles), scoliosis, heart defects. and respiratory weakness.

Treatment approaches might include:
  • Physical therapy — Physical therapy, especially regular stretching, is important in helping to maintain the range of motion for affected muscles and to prevent or delay contractures. Strengthening other muscles to compensate for weakness in affected muscles might be of benefit as well, especially in earlier stages of milder MD. Regular exercise is important in maintaining good, overall health, but strenuous exercise might damage muscles further. For patients whose leg muscles are affected, braces might help lengthen the period of time they can walk independently.
  • Surgery — If a patient’s contractures have become more pronounced, surgery might be used to relieve the tension by cutting the tendon of the affected muscle then bracing it in a normal resting position while it regrows. Other surgeries are used to compensate for shoulder weakness in facioscapulohumeral MD, and to keep the breathing airway open for people with distal MD who sometimes experience sleep apnea. Surgery for scoliosis is often needed for patients with Duchenne MD.
  • Cardiac care — Arrhythmias are often a symptom with Emery-Dreifuss and Becker MD, and might need to be treated with special drugs. Pacemakers might also be needed in some cases, and heart transplants are becoming more common for men with Becker MD.
  • Respiratory care — When the muscles of the diaphragm and other respiratory muscles become too weak to function on their own, a patient might require a ventilator to continue breathing deeply enough. Air might also be administered through a tube or mouthpiece. It is therefore very important to maintain healthy lungs to reduce the risk of respiratory complications.
  • Occupational therapy — Occupational therapy involves employing methods and tools to compensate for a patient’s loss of strength and mobility. This might include modifications at home, dressing aids, wheelchair accessories, and communication aids.
  • Nutrition — Nutrition has not been shown to treat any conditions of MD, but it is essential to maintaining overall good health.
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