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Difference Between ALS and Muscular Dystrophy

ALS vs Muscular Dystrophy

ALS is better known as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and is referred to at times as Lou Gehrig�s disease.  This is a medical condition that attacks the nervous system cells found in the brain and the spinal, and are called neurons.  These cells are those components that send messages to the brain and the spine that controls the muscles in the arms and the legs.  The Muscle Dystrophy, on the other hand, affects the muscles of the body which affects the movements of the person.  Generally, people with MD are noted to have missing genes that prevents the creation of good protein to make the body muscles healthy.  ALS tends to strike people at random while those with Muscular Dystrophy are usually born with the disease as it is a genetic disorder that is hereditary in nature.

In the medical world, these diseases affect the ability of the person to move.  ALS is a disease that can appear in a person at a late stage in his life, usually in the ages of 40 to 60 years old.  On other hand, as mentioned, the Muscular Dystrophy is a sickness that starts upon the birth of the child.  This means that it is a gradual process that can worsen through time.  Eventually, it can span from a few years to almost 20 years depending on the type of MD that a person has.  ALS, on the other hand, usually has a life expectancy for only around two to six years from the date of diagnosis.  Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis is not a hereditary disease.

When it comes to various types of sub-classifications, Muscular Dystrophy has ten classes.  These are the Duchenne, Becker, Limb girdle, facioscapulohumeral, myotonic, congenital, distal, Emery Dreifuss, spinal and the Oculopharyngeal.  Other experts state that there might be cases the classifications can be more than ten.  The ALS, meanwhile, has no sub-classifications.  When it comes to the diagnosis, the diseases of the ALS and the MD will  begin with the usual tests of the muscles and the nerves.  However, with the MD, an additional test of examining the body�s enzymes are done to determine the extent of the sickness.

It is essential that you properly determine which of these diseases do you really have so that the right primary treatment.  Both the Muscular Dystrophy and the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis are not curable.  However, there are still some additional support medications to at least help ease the comfort of the patient during his remaining time.


1.ALS can strike anyone while Muscular dystrophy appears mostly on those people that have a family history of it.
2.ALS affects the nerves while the Muscular Dystrophy affects the muscles of the body.
3.ALS has a life expectancy of only around two to six years while the MD is noted to have a longer life expectancy that can reach up to 20 years.
4.Muscular Dystrophy has ten sub-classifications while Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or ALS has no classes or types.
5. Muscular dystrophy affects people at a very young age while ALS appears mostly on people from ages 40 to 60.

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  1. I understand that this is a very general overview however there is a very important fact missing. Symptoms of MD can begin at birth but you are missing there is adult onset MD where symptoms begin in late teens to 20s.

  2. In addition to what Darren said, OPMD (Oculopharyngeal Muscular Dystrophy) is adult onset only and starts in 40s to 60s also, which is the same time frame as ALS. The initial symptoms of OPMD including swallowing issues and continue on to where they affect the proximal muscles of the body. So it is very important for someone with late onset symptoms to make sure they are tested for both MD and ALS.

  3. Muscular Dystrophy often effects the organ internally, especially the heart, breathing muscles and GI system among other things. Myotonic Dystrophy can effect every system in the body.

  4. Says that ALS is not hereditary disease. I know for a fact it can be. Tell me how I lost my dad, an uncle, a cousin, many second cousins, and a grandfather to ALS if it’s not hereditary?

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