No treatment is currently available to stop or reverse any form of muscular dystrophy (MD). Instead, certain therapies and medications aim to treat the various problems that result from MD and improve the quality of life for patients. These include the following1:
Beginning physical therapy early can help keep muscles flexible and strong. A combination of physical activity and stretching exercises may be recommended.
Many people with MD do not realize they have little respiratory strength until they have difficulty coughing or an infection leads to pneumonia. Regular visits to a specialist early in the diagnosis of MD can help guide treatment before a respiratory problem occurs2. Eventually, many MD patients require assisted ventilation.
MD patients who experience weakness in the facial and throat muscles may benefit from learning to slow the pace of their speech by pausing more between breaths3 and by using special communication equipment.
As physical abilities change, occupational therapy can help patients with MD relearn these movements and abilities. Occupational therapy also teaches patients to use assistive devices such as wheelchairs and utensils.
At various times and depending on the form of MD, many patients require surgery to treat the conditions that result from MD. People with myotonic MD may need a pacemaker to treat heart problems or surgery to remove cataracts, a clouding of the lens of the eye that blocks light from entering the eye.
Certain medications can help slow or control the symptoms of MD. These include the following:
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