Symptoms of Muscular Dystrophy
Scoliosis, an abnormal sideways curvature of the spine, affects many patients with MD. It is caused by weakness in the muscles supporting the spinal column. In most cases, scoliosis develops after patients lose the ability to stand and walk. The occurrence of scoliosis varies widely in different types of MD.
Some types of MD can cause weakness in the muscles of the chest and diaphragm that are involved in breathing and coughing. This can make breathing difficult, especially at night when breathing is suppressed. Patients with respiratory weakness may feel short of breath, more fatigued, or have difficulty concentrating.
Heart dysfunction and heart disease are commonly encountered in several types of muscular dystrophy. The most common problems are cardiomyopathy (disease of the heart muscle), cardiac arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms as a result of electrical conduction issues in the heart), and heart failure (the inability of the heart to pump blood adequately).
Several MD types can affect the muscles that control focusing vision, controlling how much light reaches the back of the eye, and eye movement, all of which can make it difficult for patients to see. Some types of muscular dystrophy also can make patients more likely to develop cataracts.