“Dystrophy,” originally coming from the Greek “dys,” which means “difficult” or “faulty, and “trophe,” meaning “nourishment” holds the interpretation “poor nutrition.” Today we know poor nutrition is not the cause of Muscular Dystrophy (“Myotonic Dystrophy”). Muscular Dystrophy is a genetic disorder that affects between 500-600 newborns each year in the US (Statistics on Muscular Dystrophy). In general, this disorder weakens your skeletal muscles, and eventually they degenerate. Muscular Dystrophy also has several specific types within the disorder, such as: Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, Becker Muscular Dystrophy, and Myotonic Dystrophy. Each one has their own specific characteristics.
Muscular Dystrophy is a genetic disorder in which your muscles drastically weaken over time. Muscles are replaced with “connective tissue,” which is more of a fatty tissue than a muscular one. The connective tissue is the tissue that is commonly found in scars, and that same tissue is incapable of movement. Although Muscular Dystrophy affects muscles in general, other types affect certain groups of muscles, and happen at different periods throughout a lifetime. For example one of the most common types, Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, targets muscles in the upper thigh and pelvis. The disease is displayed throughout early childhood, usually between ages four and seven. This genetic disorder occurs only in boys. People have difficulty sitting up or standing and lose their ability to walk in their early teens. Sadly most people die by the age of twenty. A second common type, Becker’s Muscular Dystrophy affects the same muscles as Duchenne, but first appears in teenage years. Most people with Becker’s only live into their forties (Fallon 1824-1825).
Myotonic Dystrophy is a genetic disorder that every 1 in 8,000 people are living with (Fallon 1824-1825). Myotonic Dystrophy, or Myotonia, is the delayed relaxation of a muscle after it has been contracted. For example a person may not be able to release their grip on a doorknob or handle. Myotonia, unlike Duchenne and Becker’s Muscular Dystrophy, affects the upper body. More specifically, the hands, face, neck, and forearms. Myotonia also affects feet as well. Myotonia doesn’t actually show up until approximately nineteen years of age, and luckily it does not shorten a person’s lifespan (“Myotonic Dystrophy”).
Myotonic Dystrophy doesn’t have a very lengthy history, but a lot was discovered over the years. In 1876, Thomsen described Myotonia having patterns similar to Myotonia Congenita. Also in 1886, Eulenburg came to the conclusion it was also like Paramyotonia Congenita. Myotonia was also described Steinert in 1909, and he called it Myotonia Atrophica. One of the most breakthrough discoveries dealing with Myotonic Dystrophy occurred in 1941, when Denny-Brown and Nevin concluded that this disorder affects muscles not nerves. The genetic basis of the disease was discovered in 1992 (Myotonic Dystrophy. Yale Univ.)