Muscular dystrophy (MD) is a group of genetic disorders that gradually weakens and damages the muscles.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an immune-mediated disorder of the central nervous system that disrupts communication between the brain and body and within the brain itself.
Although MD and MS may look similar on the surface, the two disorders are very different:
|Muscular dystrophy||Multiple sclerosis|
|MD affects the muscles.||MS affects the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord).|
|Caused by a defective gene involved with making proteins that protect muscle fibers from damage.||Cause is unknown. Doctors consider it an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system destroys myelin. This is a fatty substance that protects brain and spinal cord nerve fibers.|
|MD is a cover term for a group of diseases, including: Duchenne muscular dystrophy; Becker muscular dystrophy; Steinert’s disease (myotonic dystrophy); ophthalmoplegic muscular dystrophy; limb-girdle muscular dystrophy; facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy; congenital muscular dystrophy; distal muscular dystrophy||A single disease with four types: clinically isolated syndrome (CIS); relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS); secondary progressive MS (SPMS); primary progressive MS (PPMS)|
|Different forms of MD weaken different muscle groups that can affect breathing, swallowing, standing, walking, the heart, joints, facial, spine, and other muscles and, thus, body functions.||The effects of MS are different for everyone, but common symptoms include issues with vision, memory, hearing, speaking, breathing, swallowing, balance, muscle control, bladder control, sexual function, and other basic body functions.|
|MD can be life-threatening.||MS isn’t fatal.|
|Symptoms of the most common type (Duchenne) start in childhood. Other types can surface at any age, from infant to adult.||According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the average age of clinical onset is 30–33 years old, and the average age of diagnosis is 37.|
|MD is a progressive disorder that gradually worsens.||With MS, there can be periods of remission.|
|MD has no known cure, but treatment can manage symptoms and slow progression.||MS has no known cure, but treatment can relieve symptoms and slow progression.|
Due to the similarity of some of their symptoms, people might confuse muscular dystrophy (MD) with multiple sclerosis (MS). The two diseases, however, are very different from how they affect the body.
MD affects the muscles. MS affects the central nervous system. While MD is life-threatening, MS is not.
At this point in time, there’s no known cure for either condition, but treatment can help manage symptoms and slow disease progression.