Muscular dystrophy (MD) is a chronic medical condition. It can significantly impact the everyday lives of those who have it.
What is muscular dystrophy?
There are actually several different varieties of muscular dystrophy. They all, however, cause patients to experience a gradual weakening or loss of their muscle mass. MD is most common among males, and most patients experience an onset of their condition in childhood.
What are the different types of muscular dystrophy?
There are four primary types of MD:
- Congenital MD is generally present at the time of a patient’s birth or appears during their first two years of life. It affects either gender, and symptoms range from mild to severe ones.
- Myotonic MD patients generally have elongated faces and necks and drooping eyelids due to their body’s inability to relax the muscles in these parts of the body.
- Limited-girdle MD generally has a childhood or adolescent onset. An early sign of this condition is gait problems. A patient’s hip and shoulder muscles may later show signs of weakness.
- Facioscapulohumeral (FSHD) MD affects the facial, shoulder and hip muscles. It can cause a patient’s shoulder blades to protrude out. This condition affects all ages, including children, teens and older adults.
What kind of residual functioning someone may have can vary greatly according to the subtype of their disorder.
How does muscular dystrophy impact a patient’s everyday life?
Patients may experience contractures or a shortening of the tendons and muscles around their joints, limiting their mobility. This condition may also restrict shoulders and arms movement necessary for individuals to perform tasks autonomously. Many MD patients also develop scoliosis or curvature of their spine and eventually rely on a wheelchair to get around.
It’s not uncommon for MD patients to suffer from heart, respiratory and swallowing difficulties as almost every bodily function involve muscles performing specific tasks.
What to do if your condition affects you profoundly
Many MD patients slow their muscle deterioration by taking medications, but it seldom helps them enjoy the same quality of life as others. Many MD patients are eventually unable to work.
If your muscular dystrophy has progressed to the point where you can no longer remain employed, it may be time to consider Social Security Disability benefits.