Becker muscular dystrophy is an inherited disorder that involves slowly worsening muscle weakness of the legs and pelvis.
Becker muscular dystrophy is very similar to Duchenne muscular dystrophy, except that it gets worse at a much slower rate and it is less common.
The disorder is passed down through families (inherited). Having a family history of the condition raises your risk.
Becker muscular dystrophy occurs in about 3 - 6 out of every 100,000 births. The disease is found mostly in boys.
Females rarely develop symptoms. Males will develop symptoms if they inherit the defective gene. Symptoms usually appear in boys between ages 5 and 15, but may begin later.
Muscle weakness of the lower body, including the legs and pelvis area, slowly gets worse, causing:
Muscle weakness in the arms, neck, and other areas is not as severe as in the lower body.
Other symptoms may include:
The health care provider will do a nervous system (neurological) and muscle examination. A careful medical history is also important, because symptoms are similar to those of Duchenne muscular dystrophy. However, Becker muscular dystrophy gets worse much more slowly.
An exam may find:
Tests that may be done include:
There is no known cure for Becker muscular dystrophy. The goal of treatment is to control symptoms to maximize the person's quality of life. Some doctors prescribe steroids to help keep a patient walking for as long as possible.
Activity is encouraged. Inactivity (such as bed rest) can make the muscle disease worse. Physical therapy may be helpful to maintain muscle strength. Orthopedic appliances such as braces and wheelchairs may improve movement and self-care.
Genetic counseling may be recommended. Daughters of a man with Becker muscular dystrophy may carry the defective gene and could pass it on to their sons.
You can ease the stress of illness by joining a support group where members share common experiences and problems.
Becker muscular dystrophy leads to slowly worsening disability, although the amount of disability varies. Some men may need a wheelchair, while others may only need to use walking aids such as canes or braces.
Lifespan is usually shortened because of heart and breathing disease.
Call your health care provider if:
Genetic counseling may be advised if there is a family history of Becker muscular dystrophy.
Benign pseudohypertrophic muscular dystrophy; Becker's dystrophy
Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF. Muscular dystrophies. In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 18th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 608.
Updated by: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine; and Luc Jasmin, MD, PhD, Department of Neurosurgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, and Department of Anatomy at UCSF, San Francisco, CA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
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