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LIMB-GIRDLE MUSCULAR DYSTROPHY
Limb-girdle muscular dystrophy is a term for a group of diseases that cause weakness and wasting of the muscles in the arms and legs. The muscles most affected are those closest to the body, specifically the muscles of the shoulders, upper arms, pelvic area and thighs. The weakness starts in childhood to young adulthood. Symptoms include:
• Abnormal, sometimes waddling, walk
• Joints that are fixed in a contracted position (late in the disease)
• Large and muscular-looking calves (pseudohypertrophy), which are not actually strong
• Loss of muscle mass, thinning of certain body parts
• Low back pain
• Palpitations or passing-out spells
• Shoulder weakness
• Weakness of the muscles in the face (later in the disease)
• Weakness in the muscles of the lower legs, feet, lower arms and hands
HOW IS LIMB-GIRDLE MUSCULAR DYSTROPHY DIAGNOSED?
As with all disorders a general physician would conduct a physical examination and an interview to understand the medical history of the patient. A blood test to check the levels of the hormone creatine kinase would be advised, as a high level of CK would suggest a muscle disorder. An electromyography to observe the electrical activity in the muscles and nerves and a muscle biopsy would be performed.
HOW IS LIMB-GIRDLE MUSCULAR DYSTROPHY TREATED?
The treatment procedures here include intensive physiotherapy that is accompanied with exercises to strengthen the muscles and improve posture. A healthy diet is suggested too and medicines are rarely used for treating this problem. Callipers may be needed for support, if needed.
DID YOU KNOW?
People with limb-girdle muscular dystrophies may experience complications such as:
• Abnormal heart rhythms
• Contractures of the joints
• Difficulties with activities of daily living due to shoulder weakness
• Progressive weakness, which may lead to needing a wheelchair