More than 2.3 million people worldwide live with multiple sclerosis. Muscle dystrophy is another debilitating condition that affects nearly 1 in every 7,250 males in the United States. While both diseases can be progressive and have a similar set of symptoms, they have key differences. Here we explain the distinguishing factors between muscle dystrophy vs multiple sclerosis.
Muscle Dystrophy Vs Multiple Sclerosis
Symptoms like muscle weakness and loss of coordination are both hallmark signs of muscular dystrophy and multiple sclerosis. However, the cause of these diseases is what sets them apart.
First, multiple sclerosis (MS) occurs when the immune system attacks nerve cells. The damage results in problems with vision, bowel, and bladder control. It also affects the muscular function. There are four types of MS: clinically isolated syndrome, relapsing-remitting, secondary progressive, and primary progressive.
Muscular dystrophy (MD) is a condition caused by defective genes that damage and weakens muscles. Unlike multiple sclerosis, this condition does not affect the brain or central nervous system. Those living with muscular dystrophy also have hormonal and metabolic issues like low testosterone and insulin resistance.
MD also refers to a group of diseases. Among those diseases are Duchenne muscular dystrophy and Becker muscular dystrophy.
Another main difference between multiple sclerosis and muscular dystrophy is that MD can be life-threatening. In fact, those with muscular dystrophy the condition usually die in their late teens or early 20s.
How Are They Diagnosed?
Multiple sclerosis is diagnosed on the basis of the symptoms experienced and a physical examination. This included magnetic resonance imaging and fluid taken from the spine. Also, people between the age of 30 and 37 are diagnosed with the condition.
On the other hand, muscular dystrophy, specifically Duchenne, is initially diagnosed during childhood. Symptoms usually occur around 2 years old with diagnoses happening at around 5 years old.
MD is diagnosed using electrical studies to assess muscle function, blood tests to evaluate muscular damage and muscle biopsies to confirm the diagnosis of muscular dystrophy.
How are Both Diseases Treated?
There are is no cure for multiple sclerosis or muscular dystrophy. Both diseases are managed through treatment. For multiple sclerosis, sufferers are prescribed medication to target specific immune activity that damages nerve cells. Corticosteroids are also prescribed to suppress the immune response.
Some medical experts have asserted that stem cell treatment is beneficial for those living with MS. With this type of treatment, the doctor puts stem cells in your bloodstream which become new white blood cells — thus building a healthy immune system.
Similarly, muscle dystrophy can be treated with corticosteroids. This medication may improve strength and slow down the progression of the disease. Physical and occupational therapy, braces, and surgery may also be required.
Muscular dystrophy and multiple sclerosis are two similar diseases, but their causes are vastly different. Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease that affects the nervous system, and muscular dystrophy is a genetic disorder that impacts muscle function.
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