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Becker muscular dystrophy: causes, symptoms and treatment

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

Becker muscular dystrophy is a slow and progressive degeneration of the muscles of the legs and pelvis, among others. It is a genetic disease that appears in childhood and affects boys to a greater extent than girls, in addition to the fact that the latter do not usually present symptoms or are very moderate. The warning signs of the disease vary depending on the patient suffering from dystrophy, although most of them involve movement difficulties as the muscles and bones are affected. The quality of life of the patient depends mainly on the development of symptoms. If you want to know more about this disease that affects 3 out of every 100,000 male children born, at FastlyHealwe explain the causes, symptoms and treatment of Becker muscular dystrophy.

Causes of Becker muscular dystrophy

Becker muscular dystrophy is a genetic disease produced on the X chromosm. This is due to insufficient production of a protein called dystrophin, which plays a very important role in muscle development. This protein is responsible for the formation of the structure of muscle cells, and its scarcity leads to dystrophy. However, although it is a hereditary disease, there is not always a family history, so at this point we will also explain why it occurs in this case.

To be better understood, a woman has two X chromosomes, while men have one X and one Y chromosome. Both sons and daughters whose mothers have a dystrophy mutation on one of the X chromosomes have a 50% chance of inheriting said gene and suffer from muscular dystrophy. Although a woman does not develop symptoms, she is considered a carrier of the gene, so she could pass it on to her children.
On the other hand, men cannot transmit the defective gene to their male children, because they have to give them the Y gene, so the mother will always be in charge of giving them the other X gene.

Symptoms of Becker muscular dystrophy

The first symptoms of this genetic disease in boys appear between 10 and 12 years of age. It begins by manifesting a muscle loss in the hips, pelvis, thighs and shoulders. The speed and progression with which symptoms develop vary in each person, so some men need a wheelchair after the disease has developed, compared to others who, despite suffering from muscular dystrophy, can lead a life normal, within the difficulties that the disease entails, with canes or other objects that facilitate their movement. The symptoms that accompany the disease are:

  • Progressive muscle weakness that causes frequent falls. The muscles that are involved with greater intensity with those of the thighs and pelvis. The hips and shoulders can also be affected but to a lesser extent, in most cases,
  • Difficulty walking ; however, they can do it until adulthood depending on each case.
  • Loss of muscle mass.
  • Painful contractions of the muscles involuntarily.
  • Malformations in the bones.
  • Cardiomyopathy . These are diseases of the heart muscles, causing enlargement of the heart, at the same time that they can make it stiffer or thicker than usual. It doesn’t always have to involve a problem, and there are people who live with it. However, it can also lead to cardiac arrest, heart failure, and abnormal heart rhythms.

Treatment of Becker muscular dystrophy

There is no definitive cure for Becker muscular dystrophy, although palliative treatments are applied that can improve the patient’s quality of life by going to the physiotherapist in order to combat muscle contractures that appear in the joints. Some drugs such as steroids help maximize the amount of time a person is able to walk. In addition, it is important that the person remains active, since it is believed that inactivity can impair the symptoms of the disease.
Orthopedic devices, such as wheelchairs or corsets, facilitate patient mobility. In some cases, surgery is also done to treat muscle stiffness and pain. The administration of prednisone, a drug that contributes to the temporary improvement of muscle weakness, is also being considered, although it could cause long-term side effects.
The best option would be to get the implantation of a gene therapy that would allow the production of dystrophin in the muscles, which would prevent dystrophy, although it does not currently exist.

How to diagnose the disease

Sometimes the disease is not diagnosed until the person is in adolescence or even early adulthood, since warning symptoms have not yet been detected. The person with Becker muscular dystrophy usually detects the first signs when exercising , experiencing difficulties in movement. At this point, the person begins to change their walking posture, doing it on the toes or sticking out the abdomen. Some of the tests that can be performed for its diagnosis are:

  • Biopsy . It consists of extracting a sample of tissue from the muscles to be examined in laboratories.
  • Electromyography . Electrodes are placed over the muscles that want to be checked to measure the electrical activity of the muscles and nerves for abnormalities.
  • Telemetry . It consists of the control of the heart rate for its registration and detection of abnormalities in the heart rate.
  • Genetic testing . It allows to find out if there is a genetic disease as the cause of the symptoms.
  • Magnetic resonance . It is done to create an image of the muscles to detect changes.

This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Becker muscular dystrophy: causes, symptoms and treatment , we recommend that you enter our Bones, Joints and Muscles category .

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