A multidisciplinary team, usually led by a neurologist, treats muscular dystrophy (MD). They’ll tailor the type of treatment you receive to your specific needs.

MD is a group of conditions that lead to muscle weakening and wasting that gets worse over time. The effects of muscular dystrophy gradually reduce your mobility and ability to do daily activities.

If you’ve had a diagnosis of MD, your care team will be made up of a variety of medical professionals. Together, they’ll help manage your symptoms, prevent complications, and promote your independence.

People with MD can have a wide variety of health needs. For example, as well as the muscles, MD can affect many other areas of the body, including the:

Doctors specializing in specific areas can best manage these different needs. Due to this, MD treatment uses a multidisciplinary care team.

This team is often led by a neurologist with a background in neuromuscular conditions. Neuromuscular conditions are those that affect your muscles, the nerves that control them, or the communication between the two.

An MD care team often comprises doctors who are involved in treating the musculoskeletal symptoms of MD, including:

  • Physical therapists: Physical therapists help promote strength, flexibility, and range of motion, and they can aid people with MD in maintaining muscle strength and preventing complications like contractures.
  • Occupational therapists: Occupational therapists can help people with MD learn how to manage their own daily activities and help them adapt to any changes in function.
  • Orthopedists: Orthopedists are involved in bone and joint care with MD, such as for contractures and spinal curvatures. They can also help manage osteoporosis that can develop due to corticosteroid treatments.
  • Orthotists: Orthotists help fit people with MD with assistive devices like braces and splints.

Additional specialists who may be involved in the care of someone with MD include:

Additionally, the care team may have a care coordinator. This person communicates with you and helps the different members of your care team communicate with each other.

If you’re looking for MD specialists, resources are available to you. Some online resources to check out include the Muscular Dystrophy Association, which has a variety of affiliated care centers located across the United States, and Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy, which has a focus on Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD).

Your primary care provider is also a valuable resource. They can refer you to specialists who focus on the care of people with MD and help you assemble a team.

The types of treatment that a doctor may suggest for MD include:

  • corticosteroids and other drugs that can help slow the rate of muscle damage
  • other medications to address additional effects of MD, such as muscle spasms, cardiomyopathy, or arrhythmias
  • physical and occupational therapy
  • respiratory therapy, such as deep breathing exercises, to help with respiratory problems
  • support aids — such as splints, braces, or wheelchairs — to help with stability and mobility
  • surgery to correct contractures or spinal curvatures or to implant a pacemaker to prevent heart problems
  • speech-language therapy
  • psychotherapy
  • assisted ventilation, which you may need if MD affects the breathing muscles

Every individual with MD is different. As a result, your care team will tailor the types of treatment you receive to meet your specific needs.

There’s currently no cure for MD. The symptoms of MD will gradually continue to worsen over time. Treatment can help you manage your MD symptoms and complications, promote your independence, and boost your quality of life.

Your specific outlook can depend on the type of MD you have. Some people with MD can have a relatively normal life expectancy, while in others, life expectancy may be shorter.

For example, DMD and Becker muscular dystrophy (BMD) are two similar types of MD. However, DMD is more severe and progresses faster than BMD. Due to this, individuals with DMD now have a median life expectancy of 28.1 years, while people with BMD can often live into their 40s and 50s.

Meanwhile, many people with myotonic MD can have a normal life expectancy. However, this depends on the type of myotonic MD they have, as well as their age at onset.

MD is a group of conditions that lead to progressive muscular weakening and wasting. As well as the skeletal muscles, it can also affect other areas of the body, like the heart, lungs, and nervous system.

Due to this, a multidisciplinary care team is involved in the treatment of MD. The members of this team and the type of treatment you receive will depend on your individual needs.

Your outlook can vary depending on the type of MD you have. Your care team can give you a better idea of your individual outlook, treatment options, and what to expect.