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Understanding Muscular Dystrophy

Disabled teenage boy with Muscular Dystrophy in wheelchair playing basketball on outdoor court

What Is Muscular Dystrophy?

Muscular dystrophy (MD) is a genetic disease where the muscles weaken over time. It is a progressive condition leading to weakness and loss of coordination. There are over 30 different types of muscular dystrophy. Duchenne and Becker Muscular dystrophy is the most common type. Muscular dystrophy occurs almost exclusively in males.

Symptoms Of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD)

It starts by affecting the muscles of the hips and pelvis. The weakness usually begins after the child walks (ages 2-5). These most common presenting signs are large calves. Other symptoms include:

  • Late or abnormal walking
  • Clumsiness 
  • Difficulty with quick movements such as running or jumping 
  • Problems getting up to stand from the floor

Who Does Muscular Dystrophy Impact?

Children with Duchenne muscular dystrophy usually lose the ability to walk and require wheelchairs by their teenage years. Many of these patients also develop weak muscles of the respiratory system and heart as they grow older.

Becker Muscular Dystrophy is a milder form of muscular dystrophy that presents later in adolescence. These patients may require a wheelchair when they are in their 30s. 

Diagnosing Muscular Dystrophy

Your doctor will perform a complete medical and family history. He or she will perform a careful and thorough physical examination, which includes watching your child walk. The doctor may also order several tests, including lab studies, genetic testing, EMG (nerve testing), x-rays, and possibly muscle biopsy. 

Is There A Cure?

At this time there is no cure for children with muscular dystrophy. There are, however, interventions that can be done to limit the effects of the disease. Physical therapy can help to keep muscles strong and joints mobile.  Many patients with muscular dystrophy do eventually require assistance with ambulation such as canes, walkers, or wheelchairs.

Surgery For Muscular Dystrophy

Some patients with muscular dystrophy can benefit from surgery. This is performed at the discretion of the orthopedic surgeon and should be done sparingly. Surgical interventions for muscular dystrophy include the release of tight muscles or spinal fusion to correct spine deformity and improve posture.

When To See The Pediatric Orthopedic Center

The Pediatric Orthopedic Center is the premier NJ hub for pediatric orthopedics, with three offices throughout northern NJ and two pediatric-trained foot and ankle specialists. Having been the leader in pediatric orthopedics in this area for 30 years, we are the largest and most award-winning pediatric orthopedic practice in the tri-state area.

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Know Before Your First Visit

Verify the date and time of your appointment. You may be required to complete new patient paperwork or provide personal information prior to being seen by your doctor. Please arrive approximately 30 minutes prior to your appointment time.

Confirm the address and location of your appointment. The Pediatric Orthopedic Center has four convenient locations in New Jersey. Confirm with the front desk staff the office location for your visit.

Be aware of travel issues and delays. Be mindful of any driving conditions, road construction detours and parking requirements to ensure you arrive for your appointment on time.

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Walk-In Hours Update

*Urgent and Acute Injuries Only during Urgent Care/Walk-in Clinic hours. To find out if your child’s injury qualifies for a walk-in visit, click here. (Walk-in fees may apply.)


Regular Hours: 9am-5pm
Walk-in Hours* (Cedar Knolls): 5pm-8pm


Regular Hours: 9am-5pm
Walk-in Hours* (Cedar Knolls): 5pm-8pm


Regular Hours: 9am-5pm
Walk-in Hours* (Cedar Knolls): 5pm-8pm


Regular Hours: 9am-5pm
Walk-in Hours* (Cedar Knolls): 5pm-8pm


Regular Hours: 8am-5pm
NO walk-in hours.


Walk-in Hours* (Cedar Knolls): 10am-2pm

Sunday: Closed

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