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How Long Can You Live With Muscular Dystrophy?

Muscular dystrophy can be defined as progressive degeneration and wasting of the muscles of the body. It is a group of diseases which comprises 30 forms of muscular dystrophy. The main cause of this condition in the inheritance of mutated genes from generation to generation. It causes a deficiency of a protein called dystropin which is needed for growth and functioning of the body. The disease ranges from mild to moderate to severe in its symptoms. It can be so severe that it can be life-threatening when it involves the muscles of the lungs, heart, and other vital organs.

How Long Can You Live With Muscular Dystrophy?

How Long Can You Live With Muscular Dystrophy?

Muscular dystrophy (MD) is a group of inherited conditions which is characterized by progressive wasting of voluntary muscles of the body.1 It is caused by mutations in the genes that disturb the production of a protein named dystrophin. Dystrophin is a protein required for healthy growth and functioning of muscles.2

The deficiency or absence of this protein may cause difficulty in walking, swallowing, and coordination of muscles. The condition interferes with the normal function of muscles depending upon the type and severity of the disease. It may vary in effects from mild to moderate to severe. It progresses slowly over years to cause disabilities.

The life expectancy of some of the types of muscular dystrophy is short and most of them die in their early adulthood. However, in some types, the affected individual may possess mild effects on their muscles and can live a normal life. When it affects the muscles of heart and lungs in severe cases, it can become life-threatening.

Muscular dystrophy can develop at any age. Its progress to degeneration of the muscles is also gradual and slow. Its appearance is usually seen in infancy however, it may also appear in middle age or later. Its appearance in a particular age depends on its type and severity.

The severity of the disease depends on –

  • Age of onset of the condition
  • Type of the condition
  • The rate at which it progresses
  • Affections of heart muscles
  • Affections of muscles of the lungs
  • The lifestyle of the individual

Life expectancy of muscular dystrophy depending on its types-

Myotonic– it is a common type of muscular dystrophy that ranges from mild to severe forms. It can appear at any age. In mild form, its progress is slow and does not cause death. But, it may cause life-threatening complications in its severe form.

Duchenne – it is the commonest type. It is also the most severe type of muscular dystrophy.2 It mostly develops in young boys in early childhood. The affected person has a short lifespan and dies in his 20s or 30s.

Becker– it is similar to Duchenne but it does not severe symptoms like Duchenne.2 It appears in late childhood and does not affect the life of the affected person in every case.

Facioscapulohumeral– it affects the muscles in childhood or adulthood. It is also a milder form of muscular dystrophy. It has gradual progress and it rarely affects the life expectancy of the affected person.

Oculopharyngeal– this form of muscular dystrophy mostly does not appear. It develops only in a person in 50s.3 It does not cause serious affections of muscles. It is not fatal.

Emery –Dreifuss– it usually develops in childhood or early adulthood. Its onset and progress are slow. Most patients with this form of the disease survive until their middle age.


Muscular dystrophy is a slow and progressive degenerative disease of muscles of the body. It causes disability in such an extent that the patient cannot move without a wheelchair. It is a group of 30 forms of muscular dystrophy. The life expectancy is different for each form of muscular dystrophy depending upon its type and severity. In modern day medicines, there is no definite medicine that can cure the condition.


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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:October 29, 2019

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