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Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy: Treatment, Procedure, Cost and Side Effects

What is the treatment? How is the treatment done? Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?) Who is not eligible for the treatment? Are there any side effects? What are the post-treatment guidelines? How long does it take to recover? What is the price of the treatment in India? Are the results of the treatment permanent? What are the alternatives to the treatment?

What is the treatment?

Muscular dystrophy is essentially a group of diseases that ultimately lead to weakness in the muscles of the body. The weakness increases progressively and many people lose their ability to walk. It occurs due to the present of abnormal genes that interfere with the way the proteins in the body develop muscles. Unfortunately, there is no specific cure for this disease. The treatment for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy focusses mainly on making the condition more manageable and preventing further deterioration.

There are many different types of treatments that are normally recommended for muscular dystrophy. Doctors most commonly recommend medicines to their patients. These medicines can be in the form of cortisteroids or heart medications. Along with medication, therapy is often recommended to patients. This can include assistive therapy and devices that make it easier for the patient to cope with his or her lifestyle.

Muscular dystrophy can lead to curvatures in the spine and in other areas of the body. When this happens, the most common form of treatment that is used is surgery. It often makes it easier for patients to breathe and carry on their daily tasks and is good for their morale as well. Since muscular dystrophy is a degenerative disease, one can only expect things to get worse instead of better, which is why a large part of the treatment focusses on just ensuring that the patient is comfortable.

How is the treatment done?

Medications are often prescribed to make muscular dystrophy more bearable for the patient. There are two types of medications that are generally prescribed and these are corticosteroids and heart medications. Corticosteroids can help improve the strength of the muscles and can also delay the progression of certain types of muscular dystrophy. Heart medications, on the other hand, include ACE inhibitors or beta blockers as muscular dystrophy can affect the overall functioning of the heart.

With therapy, the goal is also to make it easier for the patient to live their life, which is why there is a lot of physical therapy involved. The patient may be asked to perform certain exercises on a daily basis to keep the muscles performing well. This includes stretching exercises as well as range of motion exercises. Leg braces are often used to keep the muscles stretched and to facilitate walking. Similarly, canes, walkers, and wheelchairs are used to aid with movement. Sleep apnoea devices may be prescribed to help the patient breathe after a certain point.

Surgery is not compulsory but can be presented as an option to improve the quality of life once the muscles begin affecting the overall structure of the body. Most commonly, spinal curvatures tend to occur, making it harder for the patient to breathe properly.

Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?)

Any patient who has been diagnosed with muscular dystrophy is eligible to use any of the treatment options mentioned above. The doctor usually helps the patient with a viable treatment plan meant to be customized for the patient’s individual needs and medical history.

Who is not eligible for the treatment?

Any person who does not have muscular dystrophy is not eligible for the treatment. Furthermore, patients with specific allergies may not be able to use all the medications that are generally prescribed by the doctors.

Are there any side effects?

As is the case with medications, there are certain risks and side effects to be vary of. Taking corticosteroids can lead to a weakness in the bones. This means that you may be more susceptible to fractures and pain in the bones. It can even lead to weight gain. There are no specific side effects to any of the therapy treatments that may be lined up. However, as is the case with surgeries, there are some side effects to be expected. Bruising and swelling at the site of the surgery, pain, difficulty in walking, irregular bowel movements, and general discomfort are all to be expected when you undergo any surgery. Also, depending on the specific surgery you get, there are a list of specific side effects that may be there.

What are the post-treatment guidelines?

You will be asked to maintain a certain diet. This is because once the restrictions in mobility come into play, getting exercise will be very hard and it can lead to weight gain and obesity, as well as the problems that come with it. Getting vaccinated for pneumonia is also something that is recommended for patients with muscular dystrophy as breathing problems do come into play later on as the disease progresses in the system. Furthermore, an optional but viable guideline is also to join a support group so that you have people to talk about your problems. The more it progresses, the higher the chances of developing depression and suicidal thoughts.

How long does it take to recover?

Unfortunately, as there is no specific cure for muscular dystrophy, there is no recovery time either. The condition is progressive and can take its own time to worsen. Some patients deteriorate quickly while others remain relatively comfortable for a long time before also deteriorating. It depends on the body of the patient and not a lot can be done to alter it. In some cases, muscular dystrophy can be delayed while other variants of the disease cannot be delayed.

What is the price of the treatment in India?

The price of the medications can range from Rs. 50 to Rs 200 for a single leaf, depending on the medicine that you are buying and the dosage of the same.

Are the results of the treatment permanent?

The goal of the treatment is to extend the overall comfort of the patient. The amount of pain and discomfort, depression, and difficulty in carrying out daily tasks must be reduced as much as possible. From that point of view, the treatment is as permanent as the condition itself. As the condition deteriorates, new treatment forms and plans must be thought of to make the condition more bearable for the patient.

What are the alternatives to the treatment?

There are no alternatives or home remedies to treat muscular dystrophy. However, there are certain techniques that one can use to manage pain. Cold and hot compresses generally work to minimize the pain in the joints, especially when caused due to any inflammation or stress in the area. Scheduling regular massages can also help ease the pain and bring some sense of tranquillity to the patient. Using a humidifier to ensure that the air in the home is clean and bacteria free also goes a long way. Creating a peaceful environment in the home is one of the most important things that can be done.

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