Types of Muscle Diseases
Common Health Issues

Types of Muscle Diseases

In poliomyelitis and other diseases that affect the nerves or the brain, the muscles are disabled because the nerves leading to them have been injured or destroyed. 

When these nerves no longer stimulate them, the muscles waste away (atrophy) from lack of use. In addition to the nerve type of muscle illness, there are diseases of the muscles themselves that can cause severe disabilities. 


Types of Muscle Diseases

The two most important muscle diseases are muscular dystrophy and myasthenia gravis.

Muscular Dystrophy

The term “muscular dystrophy” actually refers to a whole group of diseases that cause progressive degeneration of the body’s voluntary muscles—such as those of the arms and legs.

Muscular dystrophy is a particularly sad disabling disease because it strikes chiefly young children and teenagers. The muscles are weakened and gradually shrivel away. The childhood type usually manifests itself by the time the child reaches age six.


The pseudohypertrophic type occurs much more frequently in boys than in girls. The disease affects important muscles, even those of the trunk of the body. As it progresses, it may incapacitate the person so completely that he cannot even stand or sit.


A less extensive form of muscular dystrophy that usually appears between the ages of 10 and 20 is apt to involve the muscles of the face and shoulders. Because of the particular muscles that the disease affects, it is referred to as the facio-scapulo-humeral type. Afflicted persons generally live out their years and the fortunate ones have rather mild disability.


Although at the present time there is no really effective treatment for muscular dystrophy, physical therapy and orthopedic devices are helpful. Muscular dystrophy patients should be in touch regularly with a doctor that treats the illness.



Myasthenia Gravis

Myasthenia gravis is a chronic neuromuscular disease apparently caused by a defect in the transmission of nerve impulses to the voluntary muscles. As a result, the muscles do not function properly. It can start at any age but most commonly attacks women in their twenties and men past 40.


Persons with this illness feel a general muscular weakness and are aware that certain muscles tire quickly with exertion. Muscles of the face, eye, larynx, and throat are frequently affected. A victim may first detect the onset of the disease because his eyelids droop, or he may have trouble swallowing a drink of water, or he sees double.

There is no true paralysis of the muscles, and they do not usually shrivel away. But in severe forms the disease can be disabling or even fatal because it may involve the vital muscles of the swallowing or breathing. Fortunately, there are both medical and surgical treatments that are helpful to a large number of victims.


Other Muscle Diseases

A less common muscular condition is familial periodic paralysis, in which the muscles undergo temporary, intermittent paralysis. It has been found that this is a disease associated with a low content of the vital chemical potassium in the blood serum. Administration of potassium will alleviate or prevent the attacks.


Myotonia dystrophica is a familial muscle disease that causes weakness and wasting of the muscles. Cataracts of the eyes may accompany this illness. 


Another muscle disabler that tends to run in families is peroneal muscular atrophy, also called Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease. It can spread slowly to other areas from the leg muscles where it starts. Sometimes there are associated nerve disturbances in the spinal cord.



Rich Health Editorial Team

Health Research

Rich Health Editorial Team is made up of medical practitioners and experienced writers who provide information for dealing with health issues in a simple and easy-to-understand manner