Your browser does not support javascript:   Search for gard hereSearch for news-and-events here.


Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

Muscular dystrophy


Muscular dystrophy (MD) refers to a group of more than 30 genetic diseases characterized by progressive weakness and degeneration of the skeletal muscles that control movement. Some forms of MD are seen in newborns, infants or children, while others have late-onset and may not appear until middle age or later. The disorders differ in terms of the distribution and extent of muscle weakness (some forms of MD also affect cardiac muscle), age of onset, rate of progression, and pattern of inheritance.[1][2] The prognosis for people with MD varies according to the type and progression of the disorder. There is no specific treatment to stop or reverse any form of MD. Treatment is supportive and may include physical therapy, respiratory therapy, speech therapy, orthopedic appliances used for support, corrective orthopedic surgery, and medications including corticosteroids, anticonvulsants (seizure medications), immunosuppressants, and antibiotics. Some individuals may need assisted ventilation to treat respiratory muscle weakness or a pacemaker for cardiac (heart) abnormalities.[1]
Last updated: 2/16/2011


  1. NINDS Muscular Dystrophy Information Page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. 2016;
  2. Do TT. Muscular Dystrophy. Mescape Reference. 2015:
GARD Video Tutorials
GARD Video Tutorials
Learn how to find information on treatment, research, specialists, and more.
Your Questions Answered
Your Questions Answered
View questions about this condition answered by GARD Information Specialists. You can also submit a new question.

Basic Information

In Depth Information

  • Medscape Reference provides information on this topic. You may need to register to view the medical textbook, but registration is free.
  • The Monarch Initiative brings together data about this condition from humans and other species to help physicians and biomedical researchers. Monarch’s tools are designed to make it easier to compare the signs and symptoms (phenotypes) of different diseases and discover common features. This initiative is a collaboration between several academic institutions across the world and is funded by the National Institutes of Health. Visit the website to explore the biology of this condition.
  • The Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man (OMIM) is a catalog of human genes and genetic disorders. Each entry has a summary of related medical articles. It is meant for health care professionals and researchers. OMIM is maintained by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. 
  • PubMed is a searchable database of medical literature and lists journal articles that discuss Muscular dystrophy. Click on the link to view a sample search on this topic.
See Disclaimer regarding information on this site. Some links on this page may take you to organizations outside of the National Institutes of Health.