Muscular dystrophy (MD) is a group of genetically inherited disorders that are characterized by progressive weakness and degeneration of the skeletal muscles.1 Muscular dystrophy is classified into 9 major forms.


Can You Get Muscular Dystrophy At Any Age?

Different types of muscular dystrophy occur at different ages and they are classified accordingly. Let us see how.

Myotonic muscular dystrophy:


  • This type is also known as Myotonic muscular dystrophy or Steinert’s disease
  • It is the commonest form of muscular dystrophy in adults
  • It is seen in both males and females
  • It can appear at any time from childhood to later ages
  • This disease is characterized by prolonged stiffness of muscles after movement, specially aggravated in cold seasons
  • The life expectancy in this disease is usually less

Duchenne muscular dystrophy:

  • This is the commonest form of muscular dystrophy in children 1
  • This is seen to be affecting only males
  • It is usually seen to be starting between ages 2 to 6
  • The muscles start decreasing in size and grow weaker over time
  • The rate of progression of the disease is different for different persons
  • Most cases face deformities of arms, legs and spine and may need a wheelchair very early in their lives
  • The life expectancy in this disease is usually up to late teens or early twenties

Becker muscular dystrophy:


  • This type has some similarities with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, but is comparatively milder than that 1
  • The symptoms start later in life and progress slowly
  • This type also is seen to be affecting only males
  • This type can cause cardiac problems
  • Life expectancy is usually beyond 30s in this type of muscular dystrophy

Limb-girdle muscular dystrophy:

  • This type of muscular dystrophy affects both males and females
  • It is seen to be starting in late teens or early adulthood
  • In this type, the muscular weakness starts in the hip muscles and progresses to the shoulders, arms and then legs
  • Over time, walking becomes increasingly difficult
  • Those suffering from this type have a life expectancy of about middle age to late adulthood

Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy:

  • This type involves the weakness of facial, shoulder blade and upper arm muscles 1
  • This affects both males and females
  • It is greatly varying in severity
  • It may cause very mild muscle weakness or a disabling one
  • The muscle weakness may cause problems with chewing, swallowing speaking etc.
  • Most people affected with this type can walk throughout their lives and their life expectancy is near to normal

Congenital muscular dystrophy:

  • This type is present at the time of birth
  • This type progresses very slowly
  • This can affect both males and females
  • This type may cause muscle weakness at the time of birth or within a few months of birth

Oculopharyngeal muscular dystrophy:

  • This type affects the eye and the throat
  • This type is usually seen beyond 40s to 60s
  • This type progresses very slowly and causes problems with eye and face
  • It may lead to swallowing difficulty
  • In later stages, it may result in weakness in pelvic and pectoral muscles

Distal muscular dystrophy:

  • This is a rare group of diseases
  • It affects both men and women in adulthood
  • It causes wasting of the distal muscles- the muscles that are far from the center, like those of forearms, feet etc.
  • It is comparatively a less severe type and is seen to be progressing more slowly
  • It also affects fewer muscles than other forms

Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy:

  • This type is seen to be appearing in childhood or early teens and affecting mainly males. Females are affected very rarely
  • This is also a rare form of muscular dystrophy
  • It causes muscle wasting in shoulders, upper arms and legs
  • Muscle shortening can be seen in early stage of the disease
  • Chest and pelvic muscles may get weakened
  • This type is slowly progressing one and affects fewer muscles as compared to other types of muscular dystrophy

Muscular dystrophy is a genetically inherited group of disorders. It can occur at any age and is classified accordingly into various types.


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Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:


Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: July 26, 2019

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer


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