Is There Any Treatment For Muscular Dystrophy?
Muscular dystrophy is the condition in which the muscle protein, dystrophin, is not synthesized due to mutation.1 The mutation may either be congenital or acquired. There is no treatment for muscular dystrophy, but the condition can be managed through various methods:
- Physical Therapy: Muscular dystrophy reduces the flexibility and stretching ability of the muscles. Thus, stretching exercise and other mild exercise are recommended to manage the symptoms of the disease.2
- Anticonvulsants: Anticonvulsants are used to control the seizures occurred due to muscular dystrophy. Further, they are also used to manage the muscle spasm.2
- Steroids: Although the mechanism of action of steroids in this disease is unknown, but the studies concluded that steroids are used to slow down the progression of the disease. Generally, deflazacort and prednisone are the drugs of choice due to their efficacy in the muscular dystrophy involving skeletal muscles.
- Immunosuppressants: Immunosuppressants are used to delay the destruction of muscle due to unavailability of dystrophin. Many immunosuppressant drugs show good and encouraging results in animals.
- Braces: As the muscles are weaker in this disease, the braces are used to make the life comfortable for the patients. Various braces used in this condition are leg braces and spinal braces. They keep the muscles stretched and flexible and also help in reducing the contractures.
- Corrective Surgery: Patients, especially males, suffering from muscular dystrophy often requires surgery. The surgeries that can be performed includes foot surgery, muscle biopsies, insertion of feeding tube and to correct the spinal curvature, caused by scoliosis, which causes breathing problems.
- Dietary Supplements: Various dietary supplements also help in easing the symptoms of muscular dystrophy. Studies on mice have concluded the beneficial effect of N-acetylglucosamine on muscle strength and preserving muscle fibers. Amino acids such as creatine are also helpful in muscular dystrophy.
- Gene Therapy: DMD gene mutation causes muscular dystrophy. This gene is responsible for the protein called dystrophin, which provides strength to the muscle fibers and protects muscles from wear and tear. Other genes are also involved in muscular dystrophy. Although the gene therapy for muscular dystrophy is in clinical trial stage, but the initial results are promising, and the study concludes that the patients receiving gene therapy have started making some amount of dystrophin.
- Mobility Aids: Weakened muscles causes severe immobility in the patients and the patient is unable to walk. Further, the dependency of the patient on others is significantly increased. In order to reduce dependency and make the patient move freely, canes, wheelchairs and walkers are recommended.
- Breathing Assistance: Due to the weakness in the respiratory muscles, the patient is unable to sleep due to episodes of sleep apnea. Thus, to avoid the sleep apnea, a device called sleep apnea device is used to supply regular flow of oxygen at night.
- Cardiac Drugs: When the cardiac muscles are affected, the drugs such as angiotensin receptor antagonist or beta blockers are used to manage the symptoms.
- Antibiotics: Antibiotics are generally used to treat the bacterial infection due to weakened muscles and compromised immune system such as in respiratory tract infection.
Muscular dystrophy, as the name suggests, is the condition in which there is difficulty in nourishment of muscles. Muscles are continuously made and destructed with the help of muscle proteins. Sometimes, the genes involved in the synthesis of muscle proteins are mutated so that the abnormality occurs in the process of muscle formation. This led to the weakening of muscles. The severity of the disease depends upon the type of organ involved and the speed at which the muscular system is worsened. The muscles are so weak that many times the patient is nor able to walk. There is no accurate treatment of the disease, but the symptoms can be managed and the rate of progression of the disease can be delayed.
There is no cure for muscular dystrophy, but the condition can be managed by following various regimens, comprising exercise and drugs.2 The drugs used are anticonvulsants, beta blockers, antibiotics, immunosuppressants, and gene therapy. Other approaches include use of devices such as braces and mobility aids as well as performing exercise.
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