Learn About Becker Muscular Dystrophy

What is the definition of Becker Muscular Dystrophy?

Becker muscular dystrophy is an inherited disorder that involves slowly worsening muscle weakness of the legs and pelvis.

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What are the alternative names for Becker Muscular Dystrophy?

Benign pseudohypertrophic muscular dystrophy; Becker's dystrophy

What are the causes of Becker Muscular Dystrophy?

Becker muscular dystrophy is very similar to Duchenne muscular dystrophy. The main difference is that it gets worse at a much slower rate and it is less common. This disease is caused by a mutation in the gene that encodes a protein called dystrophin.

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 to 6 out of every 100,000 births. The disease is found mostly in boys.

What are the symptoms of Becker Muscular Dystrophy?

Females rarely develop symptoms. Males will develop symptoms if they inherit the defective gene. Symptoms most often 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 walking that gets worse over time; by age 25 to 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)
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of balance and coordination
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What are the current treatments for Becker Muscular Dystrophy?

There is no known cure for Becker muscular dystrophy. However there are many new drugs currently undergoing clinical testing that show significant promise in treating the disease. The current goal of treatment is to control symptoms to maximize the person's quality of life. Some providers 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.

Abnormal heart function may require the use of a pacemaker.

Genetic counseling may be recommended. Daughters of a man with Becker muscular dystrophy will very likely carry the defective gene and could pass it on to their sons.

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What are the support groups for Becker Muscular Dystrophy?

You can ease the stress of the illness by joining a muscular dystrophy support group where members share common experiences and problems.

What is the outlook (prognosis) for Becker Muscular Dystrophy?

Becker muscular dystrophy leads to slowly worsening disability. However, the amount of disability varies. Some people may need a wheelchair. Others may only need to use walking aids such as canes or braces.

Lifespan is most often shortened if there are heart and breathing problems.

What are the possible complications of Becker Muscular Dystrophy?

Complications may include:

  • Heart-related problems such as cardiomyopathy
  • Lung failure
  • Pneumonia or other respiratory infections
  • Increasing and permanent disability that leads to decreased ability to care for self, decreased mobility
When should I contact a medical professional for Becker Muscular Dystrophy?

Call your provider if:

  • Symptoms of Becker muscular dystrophy appear
  • A person with Becker muscular dystrophy develops new symptoms (particularly fever with cough or breathing difficulties)
  • You are planning to start a family and you or other family members have been diagnosed with Becker muscular dystrophy
How do I prevent Becker Muscular Dystrophy?

Genetic counseling may be advised if there is a family history of Becker muscular dystrophy.

Superficial anterior muscles
Deep anterior muscles
Tendons and muscles
Lower leg muscles
What are the latest Becker Muscular Dystrophy Clinical Trials?
Phase-2 Trial of 5mg/kg/Week Prednisolone in Young Boys With DMD
Summary: The hypothesis tested here is that a lower dose of intermittent oral corticosteroids (5mg/kg/week) will be equally effective to the 10mg/kg/week dose.
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A Single Escalating Dose Pilot Trial of Canakinumab (ILARIS®) Assessing Safety and Biomarker Changes in Boys With Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy
Summary: Canakinumab is an anti-interleukin 1 beta (IL1β) antibody approved for use in young children with familial Mediterranean fever, systemic onset juvenile idiopathic arthritis and TNF-receptor associated periodic fever syndrome. This study is a pilot trial to investigate the effects of canakinumab on clinical safety and potential clinical efficacy as demonstrated by short-term changes in select serum...
What are the Latest Advances for Becker Muscular Dystrophy?
Prednisone and deflazacort in Duchenne muscular dystrophy: a patient perspective and plain language summary publication of the Cincinnati study.
Summary: Prednisone and deflazacort in Duchenne muscular dystrophy: a patient perspective and plain language summary publication of the Cincinnati study.
Exercise Training in Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.
Summary: Exercise Training in Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.
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Long-Term Functional Efficacy and Safety of Viltolarsen in Patients with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.
Summary: Long-Term Functional Efficacy and Safety of Viltolarsen in Patients with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.
Who are the sources who wrote this article ?

Published Date: January 23, 2022
Published By: Joseph V. Campellone, MD, Department of Neurology, Cooper Medical School at Rowan University, Camden, NJ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

What are the references for this article ?

Bharucha-Goebel DX. Muscular dystrophies. In: Kliegman RM, St. Geme JW, Blum NJ, Shah SS, Tasker RC, Wilson KM, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 21st ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 627.

Doughty CT, Amato AA. Disorders of skeletal muscle. In: Jankovic J, Mazziotta JC, Pomeroy SL, Newman NJ, eds. Bradley and Daroff's Neurology in Clinical Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2022:chap 109.

Gloss D, Moxley RT III, Ashwal S, Oskoui M. Practice guideline update summary: corticosteroid treatment of Duchenne muscular dystrophy: report of the Guideline Development Subcommittee of the American Academy of Neurology. Neurology. 2016;86(5):465-472. PMID: 26833937 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26833937/.

Selcen D. Muscle diseases. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 393.