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Difference Between MD and MS

MD vs MS

There are various differences between Muscular Dystrophy and Multiple Sclerosis, although often, there seems to be confusion about the two medical conditions. Muscular Dystrophy and Multiple Sclerosis are two very distinct conditions and the pathological differences cannot be over emphasized.

While Multiple Sclerosis is a primary neurological disease that often affects the spinal cord and typically causes problems with strength and weight gain, Muscular Dystrophy is an exclusively muscular disease and it does not in any way affect the central nervous system. Sometimes the confusion with Multiple Sclerosis comes with another disease known as muscular atrophy, also known as Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), which is also a primary neurological disease.

Multiple Sclerosis presents and progresses asymmetrically and sensation results from the loss of myelin from nerve sheaths. On the other hand, Muscular dystrophy is characterized by symmetrical muscle wasting and distribution of weakness in the muscles. Sensation is not affected at all in this case, hence MD clearly falls in a distinct disease group from MS as it does not affect nerve cells.

There are various forms of the Muscular dystrophy disease, most commonly known being Duschebbe’s, which mainly prevails in children and adolescents. Others include Myotonic muscular dystrophy which is very prevalent among young adults and will sustain up to 20 years. Myotonic Muscular Dystrophy progresses much slower than other Muscular Dystrophies. Other forms of MD do not cause significant disability and are generally not that much life-shortening. However, Multiple Sclerosis is very rare in children below 10 years and will often offset in the 20’s and later years. Age of onset is another key differentiating factor between MS and MD.
One factor to note is that all forms of Muscular Dystrophies are hereditary while Multiple sclerosis is not. There isn’t yet any clear genetic link to Multiple Sclerosis that has been found.

Multiple Sclerosis in mild form will usually have no significant effect on the life expectancy of the patient, although a few aggressive types may lead to death. However, the current situation is that many MS sufferers will go on and live healthy and active lives. The case is not the same with Muscular Dystrophy as most forms of the disease will ultimately lead to death. Children diagnosed with the disease often die within a few years.

1. MD is a muscular disease while MS is a primary neurological disease.
2. MS progresses asymmetrically causes sensation while MD progresses symmetrically and no sensation is unaffected.
3.MD is hereditary while MS is not hereditary.
4.MS rarely occurs in young people while MD offsets in young and adolescent people.

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  1. I (MY FAMILY) –have a situation, I have two sets of twin sisters –the first set of twins were both diagnosed with MS, the second set of twins the one sister was diagnosed with MS while the other one doesn’t have it. Now years ago my grandma took to her bed ( that now we find out she had MS, her Mother , (My Great-grandma) had the same and my aunt had the same — they say MS—they lived to be older then 60 years of age. My sisters are still living. I am reading MS is not hereditary –I have a problem believing this — .

  2. There is some misinformation in this explanation. FSHD – facioscapulohumeral dystrophy – is one of the nine major forms of muscular dystrophy. It is NOT symmetrical on both sides of the body. Severity ranges from mild to completely disabling and there is a wide range in between. There is also infantile and childhood onset FSHD.
    There is a lot of misinformation on the internet and this article is one of them.

  3. “Multiple Sclerosis is a primary neurological disease that often affects the spinal cord and typically causes problems with strength and weight gain.”

    A bit of an odd introduction to MS. MS affects the brain and optic nerve just as often (if not more often, since initial symptoms are frequently associated with vision) than it does the spinal cord. Furthermore, if you’re trying to provide a clear-cut description of the differences between MS and MD, I don’t think highlighting strength and weight gain as MS problems helps, since neither of those problems necessarily results from damage to the central nervous system. MS symptoms vary greatly from patient to patient, but the most common are those associated with vision (diplopia, optic neuritis), fatigue, bladder and bowel control, gait, psychology (depression, anxiety, mood changes), and sensation (tingling, pain, numbness, inability to differentiate between hot and cold). Strength issues and weight gain are sometimes secondary symptoms, but hardly the most notable in terms of frequency or severity.

    “3.MD is hereditary while MS is not hereditary.”

    While MS is not hereditary in the sense that it is always based from parent to offspring, numerous common genetic mutations associated with increased MS risk have been identified, indicating that both environment and genetics contribute to the development and progression of the disease. Right now, the majority of those identified variants increase risk by a relatively small amount, 0.5-2%. Nevertheless, it is more common in certain populations than others (i.e. people of European/Middle Eastern extraction compared to those with Asian ancestry). The identical twin of someone with MS has ~25-30% chance of developing the disease, in contrast to the average American’s ~1% risk. There may also be unidentified rare genetic mutations that increase risk more substantially than the common ones, which may explain Mary’s family’s MS history.

  4. My husband said that I can over come my diagnosis of MS that I need to exercise and diet but it’s not like I’m not trying. I get dizzy and loose my balance. I keep falling down and crackling my head, this last time I donated my blood on the carpet at the Doctors office. I’m at a loss for words and I don’t know how to get better?

    • For one, you just can’t talk yourself into getting over MS, it’s not your common cold, has your husband lost his mind? He needs a wake up call and to go to the neurologist with you so he has a clear understanding of what this is, how it impacts your day to day life and how it just can’t walk out the door and leave.

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