Muscle Disorders are the diseases and disorders that affect the human muscle system and their main manifestation is skeletal muscle weakness. The terms ‘muscular dystrophy’, ‘neuromuscular conditions’ and ‘neuromuscular disorders’ fall under the umbrella of the term ‘Muscle Disorders’. These disorders are a large group of conditions which affect either the muscles, such as those in the arms and legs or heart and lungs, or the nerves which control the muscles. Disorders of muscle may cause weakness or paralysis in the presence of an intact nervous system.
Usually it is first suspected because of symptoms: a muscle weakness is noticed by the patient, family or a doctor.
Muscle Disorders may be diagnosed using one or more of the following tests:
- An electromyography (EMG) – this is a recording of the electrical activity in a muscle. It can diagnose muscle disorders, nerve and motor problems, and degenerative diseases.
- A blood test : measuring specific muscle enzymes and antibodies that may be specific to one disorder or many
- A muscle biopsy – this involves taking a small sample of muscle under local anaesthetic. The sample is examined under the microscope and the muscle chemicals (proteins) may be tested.
- Genetic analysis – this involves testing a person’s DNA using a blood sample. It can detect many (not all) cases of MD.
- MRI: to show abnormal muscle areas
- Muscle ultrasound is used to look for suspected CMD.
Several types of therapy and assistive devices can improve the quality and sometimes the length of life in people who have muscular dystrophy. Examples include:
- Range-of-motion and stretching exercises. Muscular dystrophy can restrict the flexibility and mobility of joints. Limbs often draw inward and become fixed in that position. Range-of-motion exercises can help to keep joints as flexible as possible.
- Exercise. Low-impact aerobic exercise, such as walking and swimming, can help maintain strength, mobility and general health. Some types of strengthening exercises also might be helpful. But it’s important to talk to your doctor first because some types of exercise might be harmful.
- Braces. Braces can help keep muscles and tendons stretched and flexible, slowing the progression of contractures. Braces can also aid mobility and function by providing support for weakened muscles.
- Mobility aids. Canes, walkers and wheelchairs can help maintain mobility and independence.
- Breathing assistance. As respiratory muscles weaken, a sleep apnea device might help improve oxygen delivery during the night. Some people with severe muscular dystrophy need to use a machine that forces air in and out of their lungs (ventilator).