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Becker Muscular Dystrophy

What is Becker Muscular Dystrophy?

Becker Muscular Dystrophy (BMD) is an inherited disorder of muscle structure that results in progressive weakness of limb and breathing muscles. The involuntary muscles are not affected. BMD is similar to Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD), but is less severe. BMD usually begins in the teens or early adulthood, and the course is slower and far less predictable than that of DMD. Early symptoms are cramps after exercising, and later in life the person begins to experience problems while walking quickly or running. Other noticeable symptoms besides weakness are falling, feeling "worn out," and changes in the skeletal system. Few affected have learning problems, but these cases are typically minor.

What causes Becker Muscular Dystrophy?

The cause of BMD is related to a deformity of a gene on the X chromosome (therefore, females are the carriers of this defect). This fault produces a protein called dystrophia that does not work the way it should within muscle fibers. This causes the fibers to gradually weaken and wear away.

Who gets Becker Muscular Dystrophy?

Boys are affected almost exclusively and every ethnic background is affected. In a group of 100,000 people, approximately 3 will be affected with BMD Some patients who have BMD can live a normal lifespan, however most die sometime after the age of 40.

How is Becker Muscular Dystrophy diagnosed?

BMD can often be misdiagnosed as limb-girdle muscular dystrophy or as spinal muscular dystrophy. Blood tests can be performed if it is known that BMD runs in the family. Needle EMGs and nerve conduction studies (NCSs) can also be performed. The needle EMG will show that the muscle weakness is due to a problem with the muscles versus problems with nerves.

How is Becker Muscular Dystrophy treated?

The treatment of BMD focuses on lessening the symptoms associated with it. There is no cure, but treatments are available to help with symptoms and maximize muscle function. It is vital that a person with BMD stay in shape and continue to use their muscles. This can include physical therapy. Treatment can also include genetic counseling, using splints, massages, and catabolic steroids. It is probable that the person will eventually require a wheelchair.

More information on Becker Muscular Dystrophy

Muscular Dystrophy Association
Muscular Dystrophy Campaign
Becker Muscular Dystrophy
Parent Project
Health Central