Muscular dystrophy is a group of genetic diseases in which muscle fibers are unusually susceptible to damage. These damaged muscles become progressively weaker. Most people who have muscular dystrophy will eventually need to use a wheelchair.

There are many different kinds of muscular dystrophy. Symptoms of the most common variety begin in childhood, primarily in boys. Other types of muscular dystrophy don't surface until adulthood.

People who have muscular dystrophy may have trouble breathing or swallowing. Their limbs may also draw inward and become fixed in that position — a problem called contracture. Some varieties of the disease can also affect the heart and other organs.

While there is no cure for muscular dystrophy, medications and therapy can slow the course of the disease.

Jan. 18, 2012

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