Most of the current research is focused on the more severe form of the condition (Duchenne muscular dystrophy). However, some treatments that could be effective in Duchenne muscular dystrophy may also be effective in Becker muscular dystrophy.
Becker muscular dystrophy is a variable condition; symptoms, age of onset and severity can differ significantly from one person to another. It is important, therefore, to manage symptoms and adapt clinical interventions accordingly.
A multi-disciplinary approach, with the input of specialists including physiotherapists and occupational therapists, is important, but the frequency and intensity of the interventions depends on symptoms and can vary over time. Children might require closer monitoring of their development.
It is important to try to keep as fit and active as possible. Active exercise strengthens muscles and this also applies to people with Becker muscular dystrophy. Regular daily exercise is better than occasional sudden bouts of exertion. Swimming is particularly recommended as it ensures gentle exercise to all body muscles, without over-exertion.
People with Becker muscular dystrophy may experience cramps during exercise – often during teenage years. If the cramps are troublesome, it may be worth trying ‘night splints’ (plastic splints to maintain a gentle stretch of the calf muscles overnight), calf muscle massage or compression with air-filled boots. There is however no tried-and-tested treatment for cramps.
Steroids are not routinely prescribed in Becker muscular dystrophy, although they might be considered in some specific, usually more severe, cases. However they have several side-effects, which will need to be taken into account.
In the more advanced stages of Becker muscular dystrophy, a wheelchair is likely to be needed for getting about independently, and for longer distances. There are other pieces of equipment that may be useful and a lot can be done to help both at home and at work to make certain tasks easier. Muscular Dystrophy UK will be able to advise you and put you in touch with the best sources of help.