Becker muscular dystrophy is an inherited disorder that involves slowly worsening
Benign pseudohypertrophic muscular dystrophy; Becker’s dystrophy
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Becker muscular dystrophy is very similar to
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:
Difficulty walkingthat gets worse over time; by age 25-30 the person is usually unable to walk
- Frequent falls
- Difficulty getting up from the floor and climbing stairs
- Difficulty with running, hopping, and jumping
- Loss of muscle mass
- Toe walking
Muscle weakness in the arms, neck, and other areas is not as severe as in the lower body.
Other symptoms may include:
- Breathing problems
- Cognitive problems (these do not get worse over time)
- Loss of balance and coordination
Signs and tests
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:
Abnormally developed bones, leading to deformities of the chest and back (
Abnormal heart muscle function (
Congestive heart failureor irregular heartbeat ( arrhythmias) – rare
- Muscle deformities, including:
Contracturesof heels and legs
- Abnormal fat and connective tissue in calf muscles
Muscle loss that begins in the legs and pelvis, then moves to the muscles of the shoulders, neck, arms, and respiratory system
Tests that may be done include:
EMG) nerve testing
Muscle biopsyor genetic blood test
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
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.
- Heart-related complications such as cardiomyopathy
- Lung failure
Pneumoniaor other respiratoryinfections
- Increasing and permanent disability, that leads to:
- Decreased ability to care for self
- Decreased mobility
Calling your health care provider
Call your health care provider if:
Symptoms of Becker muscular dystrophy appear
A person with Becker muscular dystrophy develops new symptoms (particularly
feverwith coughor breathing difficulties)
You are planning to start a family and you or other family members have been diagnosed with Becker muscular dystrophy
Genetic counseling may be advised if there is a family history of Becker muscular dystrophy.