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Is Muscular Dystrophy A Fatal Disease?

A muscular dystrophy 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. There are many types of muscular dystrophy. Out of which, Duchenne muscular dystrophy is the most common type. Its symptoms may range from mild to moderate to severe that can be life-threatening.2 Its symptoms include falling gait, difficulty in movement of muscles, pain, stiffness and many others.

Is Muscular Dystrophy A Fatal Disease?

Muscular dystrophy is a genetic disease marked by gradual weakening and shortening of voluntary muscles. Voluntary muscles are the muscles that control the movement. This condition is a group of many disorders of muscles nearly 30 or more disorders. This condition is a slowly progressive disease which can affect one’s ability to move freely.

The fatality dependents on the type and severity of muscular dystrophy:

Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy – it is a most common type of muscular dystrophy which affects mostly children in the age between 2-6 years.2 Most of the children have to use the wheelchair to move as the deformity of arms, legs and spine have developed due to muscle wasting. It can become more severe in the later stages as it can cause heart and respiratory ailments. The child dies in 15-20 years of his age.

Myotonic Muscular Dystrophy – it is also a common type of muscular dystrophy which can affect both males and females beginning anytime in childhood to adulthood.2 It leads to weakness of muscles and affections of the nervous system and other organs. Life expectancy of this muscular dystrophy is short.

Becker Muscular Dystrophy – it is a milder form of muscular dystrophy which has slow progress.2 It begins in the 2-16 years of age. It affects males only and can cause ailments related to the heart. Even the disease is started in childhood, the patient can live his adulthood.

Congenital Muscular Dystrophy – it is present from birth and can appear within the second year of one’s life. The affected child is born with impaired motor functions and muscle control. The disease can be mild or severe. The life expectancy of such patients depends on the severity of the disease. The child usually dies in his early infancy. Very few can survive until adulthood.

Emery-Driefuss Muscular Dystrophy– this muscular dystrophy appears in childhood and causes muscle weakness, heart and breathing problems. The life expectancy of such patients is short up to mid-adulthood due to lung or heart failure.

Muscle dystrophy is caused due to deficiency of a protein called dystrophin.2 This protein is needed for the healthy function of muscles. The deficiency or absence of this protein may cause difficulty in walking, swallowing, and coordination of muscles. Its interference with the normal function of muscles depends on the severity of the disease. It may vary in effects from mild to moderate to severe. It progresses slowly over years to cause disabilities. It may also affect the muscles of heart and lungs in severe cases that can be fatal.

Muscular dystrophy affects men more than women usually in young boys. Its effects are relatively more severe when it appears in early childhood. However, it may also develop in adulthood. It is a genetic disease so it may run in families. It is seen in one in every five thousand males.

Currently, there is no permanent cure for muscular dystrophy. But certain medicines and therapies can help to reduce the effects, progress, and symptoms of the disease.


Muscular dystrophy is a degenerative disease of muscles that can be mild or moderate or severe. It causes disability in the patient. Duchene muscular dystrophy is its most common type. It can cause severe disability in some cases that can be fatal or life threatening.


Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 2, 2019

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