Muscular Dystrophy

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Duke’s muscular dystrophy experts provide personalized treatment options to people with muscular dystrophy. We help you maintain muscle strength and preserve mobility for as long as possible. Our comprehensive care services, combined with ongoing support, education, and counseling, allows us to help you and your family cope with the life-changing effects of muscular dystrophy.

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Expert Care for Muscular Dystrophy

Muscular dystrophy is a group of inherited diseases that damage your muscle fibers and weaken your muscles over time. There are many forms of muscular dystrophy, including:

  • Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy
  • Becker Muscular Dystrophy
  • Emery-Dreifuss Muscular Dystrophy
  • Facioscapulohumeral Muscular Dystrophy
  • Limb-Girdle Muscular Dystrophy
  • Myotonia Congenita
  • Myotonic Dystrophy

Our doctors are experts in treating all forms of muscular dystrophy, as well as related conditions that may occur as the disease progresses. We use every therapy option available to preserve your strength and mobility for as long as possible, and we teach you practical skills to help you navigate daily life. We provide ongoing emotional and psychological support to you and your family, to improve your quality of life now and in the future.

Our Locations

Duke Health offers locations throughout the Triangle. Find one near you.


Your doctor will perform a physical examination and review your medical and family history. In addition, they may order one or more of the following tests:

Electromyogram (EMG)

Determines whether weakness is related to nerve or muscle disease. Techniques include nerve conduction studies in which electrodes are placed on the skin to stimulate nerves, as well as needle electromyography, which records and analyzes electrical activity in muscle.

Enzyme and Blood Tests

Measures a muscle enzyme called creatine kinase and other factors that may indicate a nerve or muscle disease.

Muscle Biopsy

Small amounts of muscle tissue and cells are removed through a needle or small incision and then examined under a microscope -- doctors may also look for biochemical and genetic information.

Genetic Testing

Blood samples are examined for gene changes that may signal muscle disease.


There is no cure for muscular dystrophy, so our care is personalized to your unique needs. We help you remain mobile for as long as possible.

Physical and Occupational Therapy

Our specialized physical and occupational therapists help you continue to function as well as possible for as long as possible.

Mobility Aids

Braces, canes, walkers, wheelchairs, and other devices may be needed to improve your mobility, or to keep your muscles stretched and flexible. We help you choose the appropriate assistance device and teach you how to use it.

Genetic Counseling

We help you and your family members understand the role of family history in muscular dystrophy, and its potential impact on your family now and in the future.

Family Support

Muscular dystrophy can have a large impact on you and your family, and we are here to help. Our social workers can help you cope with the psychological impact of the disease and navigate any treatment-related financial issues that you may encounter.


Steroids may be prescribed to slow the progression of muscle loss.

Nutritional Counseling

Our nutritionist will recommend a diet that can help improve your symptoms. Nutrition counseling may also alleviate weight gain associated with steroid use.

Tendon Release Surgery

Relieves shortening of a muscle or joint, known as contractures. This procedure may help you continue to walk. Surgery may also be recommended to treat scoliosis, breathing problems, and sitting balance.

Best Hospital for Neurology, Neurosurgery in NC

Where you receive your care matters. Duke University Hospital is proud of our team and the exceptional care they provide. They are why our neurology and neurosurgery program is nationally ranked, and the highest-ranked program in North Carolina by U.S. News & World Report for 2024–2025.

Why Choose Duke

Personalized Care
We work closely with you to create a personalized care plan that starts at the time of your initial diagnosis and continues long-term.

Experienced Specialists
Muscular dystrophy requires ongoing care from many different experts. We deliver streamlined, one-stop care for your medical and therapy needs. Your care team includes neurologists, nurse coordinators, adult or pediatric occupational therapists, physical therapists, a nutritionist, a genetic counselor, and a social worker.

Leaders in Research
Our researchers are studying gene therapy options that may reverse the symptoms of some forms of muscular dystrophy. Our work helps us understand more about the origins of muscular dystrophy, which can help us develop more targeted and effective treatments for the future.

Specialized Technology
We perform about 3,000 routine and specialized diagnostic procedures in our accredited electromyography (EMG) lab every year. Our high patient volume demonstrates our advanced training and skill in diagnosing all types of muscular dystrophy. Our EMG lab is fully accredited by the American Association of Neuromuscular & Electrodiagnostic Medicine.

Related Conditions

This page was medically reviewed on 11/09/2022 by